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FROM 1855 TO 1865. 


Whatsoever ye would- that men should do to you, do ye even so to 
*" them." MATT. vii. 12. 



Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year one 
thousand eight hundred and seventy-five, by ALEXANDER MILTON Ross, 
in the office of the Minister of Agriculture. 












Toronto, May 1875. 


THESE Recollections and Experiences are 
given to the public in compliance with the 
repeated solicitations of many of my coloured 
friends, some of whom were personally inter- 
ested in the experiences herein recorded. 

In the preparation of this narrative, I have 
strictly refrained from any attempt at embel- 
lishment or amplification, and I have aimed at 
accuracy of statement, briefness of description, 
and simplicity of style. 

A. M. R. 
Toronto, May, 1875. 





Uncle Tom's Cabin Preparations for the work 
Into the Land of Bondage The work begins 
Nine fugitives from bondage At work again 
Seven candidates for freedom Twelve hun- 
dred dollars reward A poor negro spurns the 
reward Arrival in Chicago with a "chattel" 
Safe on the soil of Canada First interview 
with John Brown His opinion of Abolition- 
ists His disappointments Character of John 
Brown He leaves for Kansas 1-25 


Keeping quiet Off to New Orleans Arrival in 
New Orleans Slave auctions Horrors of 
human slavery At work near Vicksburg 
Sowing seed at Selnia In a dangerous position 
Into the jaws of death Manacled and in 
prison A desperate situation Fidelity of a 
slave Released Two passengers by the Under- 
ground R. R. Leave Columbus for other fields 
At work in Augusta Eleven followers of the 
North Star Exciting news Fast travelling to 
the North In Washington Two fugitives from 
Huntsville 25-48 



Second interview with John Brown Letter from 

Captain Brown Refugees in Canada Second 
letter from John Brown In Richmond Cap- 
tain Brown attacks Harper's Ferry Defeat 
of Captain Brown Dough-faced Northerners 
Effects of Brown's attack Bravery of Captain 
Brown John Brown victorious" His soul is 
marching on " His martyrdom Interview 
with Governor Wise He would like to hang 
Giddings and Gerrit Smith Extracts from the 
Press Letter from Victor Hugo Whittier's 
Poem John Brown song 48-100 


A wife torn from her husband and sold Liberation 
of the wife Crossing the Ohio A Kentuckian 
in search of his "chattel" Safe arival of man 
and wife in Canada Net results Number of 
refugees in Canada The Fugitive Slave Law 
Presidential Election of 1860 Republican 
* ' Platform ' ' Democratic ' ' Platform ' ' Na- 
tional Democratic " Platform " Constitutional 
Union " Platform "Electoral vote, Presidential 
election Secession of South Carolina 110-130 


Confidential sei'vice in Canada Confederates in Can- 
ada Rebel postal service Arrest of a rebel mail 
carrier Interview with President Lincoln 
Confiscated rebel despatches Rebels in New 
Brunswick Mr. Lincoln's favourite poem Off 
to New Brunswick Occupy a room with a 



rebel War on the New Brunswick frontier 
Arrest of a rebel officer Persecution of 
Joshua R. Giddings His arrest Death of Mr. 
Giddings Steps toward emancipation The 
Emancipation Proclamation Republican Plat- 
form of 1864 Lincoln's Second Inaugural Ad- 
dress (March 4, 1866) Constitutional Amend- 
ment, Article XIII 132-16& 


Letters from William H. Seward, Joshua R. Gid- 
dings, Horace Greeley, Gerrit Smith, Wendell 
Phillips, Charles Sumner, George B. Lincoln, 
Governor Fenton, Wm. Lloyd Garrison, John 
G. Whittier, W. C. Bryant, G. Garibaldi, 
Victor Hugo 167-17 


Slaveholders' Rebellion, its Internal Causes The 
Rights of Man In Memory of Joshua R. Gid- 
dings Slavery in the Southern States Re- 
marks before the " Society for the Abolition of 
Slavery " American Reconstruction Reorga- 
nization of the Southern States American 
Politics The Blacks in Canada Position of 
the Freedmen in the South Why I Desire the 
Success of the North Ratification of the Con- 
stitutional Amendment and Proclamation of 
Freedom . 180-228 





first impressions of human slavery 
were derived from the published 
speeches and writings of Wilberforce, 
Brougham, and other English abolitionists, which 
I read in my youth, and in later years from the 
eloquent appeals for the freedom of the enslaved, 
made by Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Gar- 
rison, Theodore Parker, and Gerrit Smith. The 
impulses gained from the above sources excited 
my sympathies, and impelled me to seek for 
further and more practical information as to the 
workings of the institution of slavery in the 

2 Recollections and Experiences 

American Republic. I had not far to seek for 
the desired knowledge, for there were in Canada 
hundreds of escaped slaves, living witnesses to 
the hideous barbarity of that wicked institution. 
From them I heard heart-rending stories of the 
cruelties practised upon the poor oppressed 
coloured people of the Slave States. In proof 
of their statements I was shown the indelible 
marks of the lash and branding-iron upon their 

These refugees were, as a general rule, superior 
specimens of their race, and possessed qualities, 
in the majority of cases, which fitted them for 
all the duties of citizenship. Many of those I 
conversed with were quite intelligent, having 
held positions as coachmen, house servants, and 
body servants to their masters, and the informa- 
tion I obtained from them enabled me, in after 
years, to render some service to their friends 
in bondage. 


While I was engaged in my inquiries among 
the coloured people of Canada, Mrs. Stowe's 
work, " Uncle Tom's Cabin," was published, and 
excited the sympathies of every humane person 
who read it, in behalf of the oppressed. To me 

Of an Abolitionist. 3 

it was a command ; and a settled conviction took 
possession of my mind, that it was my duty to 
help the oppressed to freedom, to "remember 
them in bonds, as bound with them." My reso- 
lution was taken, to devote all the energies of 
my life to " let the oppressed go free." 

I had learned from the refugees in Canada 
that there existed in the Northern States relief 
organizations, formed for the purpose of extend- 
ing aid to fugitives from bondage. I also gath- 
ered from the same sources much information 
relative to the various secret routes leading 
from the Slave States to Canada, as well as the 
names and addresses of many good friends of 
freedom in the States of Ohio, Pennsylvania, 
and Michigan, who cheerfully gave shelter and 
aid to the escaped slaves whose objective point 
was Canada the Land of Liberty for the slaves 
of the American Republic. 


In November, 1856, I left Canada to prepare 
for the work which had absorbed my thoughts for 
years. A prominent abolitionist of Northern 
New York had invited me to visit his home, and 
confer with him in respect to the best way of 
accomplishing the most good for the cause we 

4 Recollections and Experiences 

both had at heart. From this noble philanthropist 
and true Christian I obtained most valuable and 
interesting information as to the workings of the 
different organizations having for their object 
the liberation from bondage of the slaves of the 
South. He accompanied me to Boston, New 
York, and Philadelphia. I was introduced to 
many liberty-loving men and women, whose 
time, talents, and means, were devoted to the 
cause of freedom. The contact with such noble, 
enthusiastic minds, imbued with an undying 
hatred and detestation of that foul blot on the 
escutcheon of their country, served to strengthen 
my resolution and fortify me for the labour before 
me. I was initiated into a knowledge of the 
relief societies, and the methods adopted to 
circulate information among the slaves of the 
South ; the routes to be taken by the slaves, 
after reaching the so-called Free States ; the 
relief posts, where shelter and aid for transpor- 
tation could be obtained. 

The poor fugitive who had run the gauntlet of 
slave-hunters and blood-hounds was not safe, 
even after he had crossed the boundary line 
between the Slave and Free States, for the 
slave-drivers of the South and their allies, 
the democrats of the North, held control of 
the United States Government at that time ; and 

Of an Abolitionist. 5 

under the provisions of the iniquitous " Fugitive 
Slave Law," the North was compelled to act as 
a police detective for the capture and return to 
slavery of the fugitives from the Slave States. 

My excellent friend also accompanied me to 
Ohio and Indiana, where I made the personal 
acquaintance of friends in those States who, at 
risk of life and property, gave shelter to the 
fugitives, and assisted them in reaching Canada. 


On my return to Philadelphia I made the 
necessary preparations for work in the Southern 

In undertaking this enterprise I did not dis- 
guise from myself the dangers I would most 
certainly have to encounter, and the certainty 
that a speedy, and perhaps cruel, death would be 
my lot, in case my plans and purposes were 
discovered. And not only would my own life be 
exposed, but also the lives of those I sought to 

My kind friends in Boston and Philadelphia 
had warned me of the dangers that were in my 
path ; and many of them urged me to seek 
other and less dangerous channels wherein to aid 

6 Recollections and Experiences 

the oppressed. I felt convinced, however, that 
the only effectual way to help the slaves was, 
to aid them in escaping from bondage. To 
accomplish that, it was necessary to go to them, 
advise them, and give them practical assistance. 
With a few exceptions the negroes were in ab- 
solute ignorance of every thing beyond the 
boundary of their plantation or town. 

The circulation of information among the 
slaves would also have a certain tendency to 
create a feeling of independence in the minds of 
the negroes, which, ultimately, would lead to 
insurrection, and perhaps the destruction of the 
institution of slavery. 

At length all my preparations were completed, 
and I was ready to enter the land of bondage, 
and discharge, to the best of my ability, the duty 
that rested upon me. 

Two years had passed since I had finished 
reading Mrs. Stowe's work, and the resolution 
which I then made, to devote my energies to 
" let the oppressed go free," was still fresh and 

Before leaving Philadelphia a mutual under- 
standing was arranged between my friends and 

Of an Abolitionist. 7 

myself in respect to confidential correspondence, 
by which it was understood that the term " hard- 
ware," was to mean males ; and " dry-goods," 
females. I was to notify my friends in Phila- 
delphia (if possible) whenever a package of "hard- 
ware" or "dry-goods" was started for freedom; 
and they in turn warned the friends in Ohio and 
Pennsylvania to be on the look-out for runaways. 


On a beautiful morning in April, 1857, I 
crossed the Potomac en route for Richmond. 
My outfit was compact, and contained in a small 
valise. The only weapon I had, was a small 
revolver, which had been presented to me by a 
Bostonian, who, in after years, honoured the 
office of Governor of Massachusetts. 

On arriving in Richmond I went to the house 
of a gentleman to whom I had been directed, 
and who was known in the North to be a friend 
to the slaves. I spent a few weeks in quietly 
looking around, and determining upon the best 
plans to adopt. 


Having finally decided upon my course, I 
invited a number of the most intelligent, active, 

8 Recollections and Experiences 

and reliable slaves, to meet me at the house of 
a coloured preacher, on a Sunday evening-. 

On the night appointed for this meeting forty- 
two slaves came to hear what prospect there was 
for their escape from bondage. I shook each by 
the hand, asked their name, age, and whether 
married or single. I had never before seen, at 
one time, so many coloured men together, and I 
was struck with their individuality and general 
kindness and consideration for each other. I 
then explained to them my object and purposes 
in visiting the Slave States. I also carefully 
explained to them the various routes from Vir- 
ginia to Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the names 
of friends in border towns who would help them 
on to Canada. I requested them to circulate 
this information discreetly among all upon whom 
they could rely. Thus, each of my hearers 
became an agent in the good work. I then told 
them that if any of their number chose to make 
the attempt to gain their freedom, in the face of 
all the obstacles and dangers in their path, that 
I would supply them with weapons to defend 
themselves, in case any attempt was made to 
deprive them of their right to freedom ; and 
also, as much food as they could conveniently 
carry. I requested as many as were ready to 
accept my offer, to come to the same house on 
the following Sunday evening. 

Of an Abolitionist. 9 


On the evening appointed nine stout, intelli- 
gent young men had declared their determination 
to gain their freedom, or die in the attempt. To 
each I gave a few dollars in money, a pocket 
compass, a knife, and as much cold meat and bread 
as each could carry with ease. I again carefully 
explained to them the route, and the names of 
friends along the border upon whom they could 
rely for shelter and assistance. I never met 
more apt students than these poor fellows ; and 
their " Yes, massa, I know it now," was assurance 
that they did. They were to travel only by 
night, resting in some secure spot during the day. 
Their route was to be through Pennsylvania to 
Erie, on Lake Erie, and from thence to Canada. 
I bid them good bye with an anxious heart, for 
well I knew the dangers they had to encounter. 
I learned many months after that they all arrived 
safely in Canada. (In 1863, I enlisted three of 
these brave fellows in a coloured regiment in 
Philadelphia, for service in the war that gave 
freedom to their race). Two of my Richmond 
pupils were married men, and left behind them 
wives and children. The wife of one made her 
escape, and reached Canada within six months 
after her husband gained his liberty. (I visited 
their happy little home, in Chatham, Canada, in 

io Recollections and Experiences 

after years, and was delighted to find them 
prosperous and contented). 


The day following the departure of my little 
band of fugitives from Richmond, I left for 
Nashville, in the State of Tennessee, which I 
decided should be my next field of labour. 
On my arrival in Nashville I went direct to the 
residence of a Quaker lady, well known for her 
humane and charitable disposition toward the 
coloured people. When I informed her of my 
success in Richmond, and that I intended to 
pursue the same course in Nashville, she ex- 
pressed great anxiety for my safety. But finding 
that I was determined to make the attempt, she 
sent for an old free negro, and advised me 
to trust him implicitly. This good man was 
nearly eighty years of age, and had the con- 
fidence of all the coloured people for miles 
around Nashville. He lived a short distance 
outside the city limits. At his house he preached 
to such of the slaves as were disposed and 
could attend, every Sunday evening. I requested 
him to invite as many of the most reliable and 
intelligent of the slaves as he could to meet 
me at his house on the next Sunday evening. 

On the evening appointed I found thirteen 

Of an Abolitionist. II 

fine able-bodied men assembled to see and hear 
an abolitionist. Seldom have I seen a finer or 
more intelligent looking lot of coloured men 
than those that composed my little audience on 
that occasion ; their ages ranged from 18 to 30. 
Some of them were very black, while others 
were mulattoes, and two of them had straight 
hair, and were very light-coloured ; but all 
of them had an earnest and intelligent look. 
My host volunteered to stand guard out- 
side the house, to prevent interruption and to 
intercept any friendly or evil minded callers. 
I talked to my hearers earnestly and practically 
for two hours, explaining the condition and 
prospects of the coloured people in Canada, the 
obstacles and dangers they would have to 
encounter, the route to be taken, and the names 
of friends, north of the Ohio river, to whom they 
could safely apply for aid to help them on to 
Canada. No lecturer ever had a more intensely 
earnest audience than I had that evening. I 
gathered them close around me, so that I could 
look each in the face, and give emphasis to my 
instructions. In conclusion, I told them that I 
should remain in Nashville until after the follow- 
ing Sunday evening, when as many as felt 
disposed to make the attempt to gain their free- 
dom could meet me in the same house at 9 p.m. 
I requested those who would decide to leave 

1 2 Recollections and Experiences 

on that night to inform their old friend before 
the next FYiday, that I might make some pro- 
vision for their long and perilous journey. 

Early in the week I received word from five ; 
and by Friday evening two more had decided 
to make the attempt to obtain liberty. 

At 9 o'clock, on the Sunday evening ap- 
pointed, I was promptly at the house of my 
friend. He again stood guard. It was nearly 
10 o'clock before I heard the signal agreed upon 
" scratching upon the door." I unlocked the 
door, when in stepped four men, followed soon 
after by three others. They were all young men 
and unmarried. I asked each if he had fully 
determined to make the attempt ; and receiving 
an affirmative reply, I very carefully explained 
to them the routes to be taken, the dangers they 
might expect to encounter, and the friends upon 
whom they could call for aid. To each I gave 
a pistol, a knife, a pair of shoes, a compass, and to 
their leader twenty dollars in money. They 
were also supplied with as much food as they 

could conveniently carry. 



At midnight I bid them good-bye ; and these 
brave-hearted fellows, with tears in their eyes, 

Of an Abolitionist. 13 

and hearts swelling with thankfulness toward me, 
started for the land of freedom. I advised them 
to travel by night only, to keep together, and 
not use their pistols except in absolute necessity. 

Next morning I called upon my Quaker friend 
and informed her of the result of my labours in 
Nashville. She expressed her delight and satis- 
faction ; but feared for my safety, if I remained 
in the city after the escape of the slaves became 

That evening I sent letters to friends in 
Evansville, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, to keep a 
sharp lookout for " packages of hardware." 

As I was leaving the Post Office a man 
handed me a small printed bill, which an- 
nounced the escape of thirteen slaves from 
Richmond ; but nine only were described, toge- 
ther with the names of their owners. A reward 
of $1,000 was offered for their capture and 
return to Richmond. I now thought it was 
time for me to leave for other fields of labour. 
Early next day I bade farewell to my kind 
Quaker friend, and started for Memphis. On 
my arrival there I sought the house of an anti- 
slavery man to whom I had been directed. The 
husband was absent from home, but the good 

14 Recollections and Experiences 

wife received me most kindly, and urged me to 
make her house my home during my stay in the 
city. I felt, however, that I had no right to 
expose the family to trouble and suspicion, in 
case I got into difficulty. I went to a hotel, 
and being tired and weary, laid down upon a 
couch to rest, and must have fallen asleep, for I 
was aroused by the shouting of a newsboy under 
my window. The burthen of his cry was, the 
escape of several slaves from Nashville in one 
night. I opened the window, and told the boy 
to bring a paper up to my room. The news 
was as follows : 


"Great excitement in Nashville Escape of 
seven first-class slave-men, by the aid of an 
abolitionist who had been seen prowling about 
the city for several days previous." Three hun- 
dred dollars reward was offered for the capture 
and return of each of the slaves, and twelve 
hundred dollars for the apprehension of the 
" accursed" abolitionist ; then followed a descrip- 
tion of the slaves, and a very good description 
of myself, considering that I had kept very close 
during my stay in Nashville. At a glance I saw 
the danger of my position, and determined to 
leave the hotel at once, which I did ; returning 
to the house I had first visited, I told the good 

Of an A bolitionist. 1 5 

wife my position. The paper, which contained 
the exciting news, also contained the announce- 
ment that a steamer would leave for St. Louis 
that night at nine o'clock. It was now three. 
Six long hours to remain in the very jaws of 
death ! I made enquiries for the house of a 
coloured man, upon whom my old coloured 
friend in Nashville told me I could rely. 
Having received the proper direction, I went 
to his humble dwelling, and mentioning the 
name of his old friend at Nashville, he cor- 
dially welcomed me. He was a fine looking 
man, with honest eyes, open countenance, and of 
more than ordinary intelligence, for one of his 
race. I handed him the paper, and pointed to 
the reward for my apprehension. When he read 
the exciting news, he grasped my hand and said, 
" Massa, I'd die to save you ; what shall we do ?" 
I told him I had determined to leave by nine 
o'clock that night, if possible, on the steamboat 
for St. Louis, and asked permission to remain 
in his house until the arrival of the steamer. 
The noble fellow placed his house, and all he 
possessed at my command. On many occa- 
sions I have placed my life in the hands of 
coloured men without the slightest hesitation or 
fear of betrayal. 

1 6 Recollections and Experiences 


This poor despised negro held in his hand a 
a paper offering a reward of $1,200 for my cap- 
ture. He was a labouring man, earning his 
bread by the sweat of his brow ; and yet I felt 
perfectly safe, and implicitly trusted this poor 
man with my life. In fact, I felt safer in his house 
than I should have felt in the house of a certain 
Vice-President of the U. S., who, in more recent 
times sold himself for a similar amount. This 
poor oppressed negro, had everything to gain by 
surrendering me into the hands of the slave- 
masters, and yet he spurned the reward, and 
was faithful to the trust I had placed in him. 

Night was now approaching, and my friend 
suggested the propriety of shaving off my whis- 
kers and changing my dress. While engaged 
making these alterations I overheard an animated 
conversation, in the adjoining room, between my 
host and a female. The woman earnestly beg- 
ged of him to ask me to take her to Canada, 
where her husband then was. The poor man told 
her my life was already in great danger, and that 
I might be captured and killed, if she was 
seen with me ; but still she continued to beg. 
When I had completed my change of appear- 
ance, he came into the room, and told me 

Of an Abolitionist. 17 

that in the next room was a coloured woman 
that had lately fled from her master on account 
of his cruelty to her. I told him to bring her in, 
and let me talk with her. She was about thirty- 
five years old, and a light mulatto, of bright, intel- 
ligent appearance. She told me of the escape of 
her husband to Canada about two years pre- 
viously, and of her master's cruelty in beating 
her, because she refused to marry a negro whom 
he had selected for her. She showed me her 
back, which was still raw and seamed with deep 
gashes, where the lash of her cruel master's 
whip had ploughed up her flesh. She earnestly 
implored me to take her to Canada. I told my 
friend to dress her in male attire, so that she 
might accompany me in the capacity of valet, 
and that I would make the attempt to take her 
to Canada. The poor creature gladly accepted 
the offer, and was soon ready for the journey. 
I gave her the name of " Sam," and myself 
the title of " Mr. Smith, of Kentucky." At half- 
past eight, p.m., we left the house of my faithful 
friend, and started for the boat, "Sam" walking 
behind me, carrying my valise. Through some 
cause or other the boat was detained until near 
eleven o'clock. Oh, what hours of misery ! 
every minute filled with apprehensions of dis- 
aster, not only to myself, but to the poor crea- 
ture depending upon me. No one, not similarly 


1 8 Recollections and Experiences 

placed, can imagine the anxiety and dread that 
filled my mind during this long delay. The 
moments passed so slowly, that they seemed 
hours. " Sam" stood near me, looking as anxious 
as I felt. At length we got aboard the boat. 
I secured tickets for myself and servant for St. 
Louis, and when the boat left the levee, I breathed 
freer than I had for several hours. 

I arrived in St. Louis without the occurrence 
of any incident of importance, and sent telegrams 
to different points along the Ohio river to friends, 
warning them to be on the lookout for fugitives 
from Tennessee. I remained in St. Louis but a 
few hours, and left for Chicago, accompanied by 
my happy servant, whose frequent question, 
"Massa, is we near Canada yet," kept me con- 
tinually on the alert to prevent her from exposing 
herself to arrest. 


When we reached Chicago, I took my servant 
to the house of a friend of the slave, where 
she was properly cared for. It was deemed 
prudent, however, that she should continue to 
wear male attire until she reached Canada, 
for it occasionally occurred that fugitives were 
caught in Detroit, and taken back to bondage, 

Of an Abolitionist. 19 

after having come in sight of the land of pro- 
mise. Their proximity to a safe refuge from their 
taskmasters, and from the operation of the infa- 
mous Fugitive Slave Law, rendered them careless 
in their manner, and so happy in appearance, 
that they were frequently arrested on suspicion 
by the minions of the United States Government, 
ever on the w r atch to obey the behests of the 
slave power. After a few hours' rest in Chicago, 
I left with my charge for Detroit, where I arrived 
in due time on the following day ; and, taking 
a hack, drove to a friend's house in the suburbs 
of the city. Here I made arrangements to be 
rowed across the river to Windsor, Canada, in 
a small boat, as soon as darkness would render 
our passage safe. I also sent telegrams to friends 
in London, Chatham, and Amherstburg, to ascer- 
tain the whereabouts of her husband, and finally 
heard that he was working in a barber shop in 


At night the poor fugitive and myself were 
taken silently over the river that separated the 
land of freedom from the land of slavery. Not 
a word was spoken until we touched the soil of 
Canada. I then told her that she was now a 
free woman, and no one could now deprive her of 

2O Recollections and Experiences 

her right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of hap- 
piness." She dropped on her knees, and uttered 
a sincere prayer to the Almighty to protect and 
bless me for bringing her to Canada. I took her 
to the house of a friend, and on the following day 
sent her to London, where she and her husband 
were united, after a separation of two years. 
(In 1863 I dined with them at their pretty little 
home, which they had paid for with the proceeds 
of their industry and thrift). Returning to De- 
troit I took the cars for Cleveland. On my 
arrival there I received a telegram from Boston 
informing me that Capt. John Brown, of Kansas, 
would meet me in Cleveland in a day or two, 
and that he desired to confer with me on a 
subject of importance, connected with the Anti- 
slavery cause. 


On the evening of my third day in Cleveland, 
while seated in my room at the hotel, a gentle 
tap at my door aroused me ; I said, " come in " 
(thinking it was a servant) ; the door opened, 
and in walked a plain, farmer-like looking man 
a stranger, but with a remarkable countenance, 
strongly indicative of intelligence, coolness, tena- 
city of purpose, and honesty. He appeared 
about five feet ten inches in height, slender, but 

Of an Abolitionist. 21 

wiry and tough ; his glance keen, steady, and 
honest ; his step light, quick, and firm. He was, 
although simply and plainly dressed, a man of 
remarkable appearance ; no close observer would 
pass him on the street without making that 
observation. He introduced himself as "John 
Brown, of Kansas," and handed me several 
letters from friends in Boston and Philadelphia. 

While I was engaged reading the letters, and 
occasionally asking a question in reference to 
their contents, he was closely examining a 
revolver of mine which he had found on my 
bureau. When I had finished reading the letters 
he remarked, " How very strange that you should 
have a pistol exactly like one I have in my 
pocket," which he produced. They were, indeed, 
fellows in every respect, and presented to us by 
the same generous Bostonian. Capt. Brown 
remained with me until after midnight, eagerly 
listening to a narrative of my trip through Vir- 
ginia and Tennessee, and in relating incidents 
connected with his labours in Kansas. His 
manner and conversation produced a magnetic 
influence which rendered him very attractive, and 
stamped him as a man of more than ordinary 
coolness, tenacity of purpose, and devotion to 
what he considered right. He was, in my estima- 
tion, a Christian in the full sense of that word. 

22 Recollections and Experiences 

No idle, profane, or immodest word fell from his 
lips. He was deeply in earnest in the work, in 
which he believed himself a special instrument in 
the hands of God. During our long (and to me 
deeply interesting) interview, which lasted from 
8 p.m. until 3 in the morning, he related many 
incidents of his life bearing upon the subject of 
slavery. He said he had for many years been 
studying the guerilla system of warfare adopted 
in the mountainous portions of Italy and Swit- 
zerland ; that he could, with a small body of 
picked men, inaugurate and maintain a negro 
insurrection in the mountains of Virginia, which 
would produce so much annoyance to the United 
States Government, and create such a feeling of 
dread and insecurity in the minds of slave- 
holders, that slavery would ultimately be abol- 


Capt. Brown had little respect for that class 
of abolitionists who, from their abodes of safety 
in the North, spoke so bravely in behalf of 
the oppressed coloured people of the Slave 
States, but who took good care to keep their 
precious bodies north of the Potomac. He 
stoutly maintained that the only way to 
abolish slavery was by conveying to the slaves 

Of an Abolitionist. 23 

such information as would aid them in making 
their escape to Canada, and by encouraging 
insurrection among the slaves ; thus producing 
feelings of dread and uncertainty in the minds 
of slaveholders, that would end in the eman- 
cipation of the slaves. 


John Brown was now returning to Kansas, from 
the Eastern States, where he had been for several 
weeks trying to collect means to carry on the 
war in Kansas. He said he had found by expe- 
rience that those abolitionists who made the 
most noise from the pulpits and lecture-rooms, 
were the last to offer a dollar toward any prac- 
tical means for the liberation of the slaves. He 
had met with disappointment in the East, and 
felt it most keenly. He had sacrificed his own 
peace and comfort, and the peace and comfort of 
his family, in obedience to his sincere convic- 
tions of duty toward the oppressed people of the 
South, while those who had the means to help 
him make war upon the oppressor, were luke- 
warm or declined to aid him in his warfare. 


I have been in the presence of many men 
whom the world called great and distinguished, 

24 Recollections and Experiences 

but never before or since have I met a greater 
or more remarkable man than Capt. John Brown. 
There was manifest, in all he said and did, an 
absorbing intensity of purpose, controlled by 
lofty moral principles. He was a devout Chris- 
tian ; and sincerely believed himself a chosen 
instrument in the hands of God to let the 
oppressed go free. 


Capt. Brown left me at an early hour in the 
morning, to take the cars for Kansas. Before 
parting I urged him to accept from me a portion 
of my funds, to aid him in the purchase of 
material for his Kansas work. This he did 
reluctantly, expressing his fears that I was 
depriving m} 7 self of the means to continue my 



|HE excitement in Richmond and Nash- 
ville, consequent upon the escape of 
so many valuable slaves, extended to 
the surrounding country. In the reading 
room of the hotel at which I was stopping, I 
picked up a Richmond paper, which contained a 
lengthy account of the escape of slaves from 
Richmond, Nashville, and other parts of the 
South. The writer stated that a general 
impression prevailed in that community, that 
a regularly organized band of abolitionists 
existed in the South, which supplied the negroes 
with information and means to escape to 
Canada. The authorities were urged to offer 
a large reward for the apprehension of the 
"cursed negro thieves" that infested the South, 
and that an example should be made of such as 
were caught, as would for ever deter others from 
interference with the rights of the South. 

26 Recollections and Experiences 


I concluded it would be better for the cause, 
I tried to serve, that no further attempt should 
be made until the present excitement in the 
South quieted down. From Cleveland I went 
to Philadelphia, where I remained until Novem- 
ber, 1857. During my stay in that city 
I was busily occupied in collecting statis- 
tics of the slave populations of the different 
Slave States, and in consulting with various 
friends as to the best methods of circulating 
information among the slaves of the Cotton 

Any one acquainted with the institution of 
slavery, as it existed in the Gulf States, will fully 
appreciate the difficulties that environed such an 
enterprise as the one I now contemplated that 
of conveying direct to the slaves a knowledge of 
the best routes, the distances to be traversed, 
difficulties to be overcome, and the fact that they 
had friends in the Border States to whom they 
could apply for aid, and on whom they could 
implicitly rely for assistance to forward them to 
Canada. Of all the dangers to myself that 
loomed up before my mind, the last and the 
least was the fear of betrayal by the slaves. 
Once they became satisfied of your friendship 

Of an Abolitionist. 27 

and your desire to help them escape from 
bondage, they would willingly suffer torture or 
death to protect you. Such, at least, has been 
my experience with the negroes of the Slave 


Early in the month of December, 1857, I left 
New York, by steamer, for New Orleans, on a 
mission, the subject and details of which had 
occupied my mind exclusively for many months. 
I was accompanied to the steamer by two 
noble-hearted and steadfast friends of freedom. 
One of these friends (a resident of the interior 
of New York State) had been my principal 
supporter, and active and unflinching friend 
from the commencement of my career as an 
abolitionist. The other, was a resident of 
Brooklyn, a prominent philanthropist, long 
identified with the abolitionists of the North. 
All my correspondence, while in the Slave 
States, was to be sent to them. Whenever a 
slave succeeded in making his or her escape 
I was to send them the information, and they 
in turn notified our friends north of the Ohio 
river to be on the lookout for " packages of hard- 
ware" (men) or "dry goods" (females), and these 
Ohio friends concealed the fugitives for a time, 

28 Recollections and Experiences 

if necessary, until they could be safely sent to 
Canada. In many parts of Ohio, Michigan, 
Indiana, and Pennsylvania, we had fast friends, 
in the majority of cases belonging to the Society 
of Quakers, whose doors were always open to 
the poor fugitive from bondage, and whose hearts 
were open to the fugitive's appeal for help. 


On my arrival in New Orleans I secured 
board with a private family, and began my 
preparations for work in the interior of the 
country. From childhood I had been passion- 
ately fond of the study of Natural History, 
especially of Ornithology. I consequently deci- 
ded to follow the pursuit of a naturalist, as a 
guise to my actual object. 


During my stay in New Orleans I occasion- 
ally attended the slave auctions. The scenes 
I witnessed there will never be effaced from my 
memory. The horrid traffic in human beings, 
many of them much whiter and more intelli- 
gent than the cruel men who bought and sold 
them, was, without exception, the most mon- 
strous outrage upon the rights of a human being 
that can possibly be conceived of. The cries 

Of an Abolitionist. 2 9 

and heart-rending agonies of the poor creatures 
as they were sold and separated from parents, 
children, husbands, or wives, will never cease to 
ring in my ears. Babes were torn from the arms 
of their mothers and sold, while parents were 
separated and sent to distant parts of the 
country. I have seen tired and overworked 
women cruelly beaten because they refused the 
outrageous demands of their wicked overseers. 


My experience in New Orleans served to 
intensify my abhorrence and hatred toward that 
vile and unchristian institution of slavery, and 
to nerve me for the work I was engaged in. On 
several occasions I attended divine worship, and 
I invariably noticed that whenever the subject 
of slavery was mentioned, it was referred to as 
a "wise and beneficent institution"; and one 
clergyman in particular declared that " the insti- 
tution of slavery \$&s devised by God for the 
especial benefit of the coloured race." 

Finally my preparations were completed, and, 
supplied with a shot gun, and materials for 
preserving bird-skins, I began my journey into 
the interior of the country. 

3O Recollections and Experiences 

The route I had decided upon was from New 
Orleans to Vicksburg, and thence through the 
interior of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South 
Carolina, North Carolina, and Florida. I had 
never before visited that part .of the United 
States, and my field of labour was consequently 
surrounded by difficulties not experienced during 
my visit to Virginia and Tennessee, from the 
fact that I had not a single friend in the Cotton 


On my arrival at Vicksburg I obtained board 
in a private family, and was soon busily 
engaged in collecting ornithological specimens. 
I made frequent visits to the surrounding plan- 
tations, seizing every favourable opportunity to 
converse with the more intelligent of the 
slaves. Many of these negroes had heard of 
Canada from the negroes brought from Vir- 
ginia, and the border Slave States ; but the 
impression they had was, that Canada was so 
far away that it would be useless to try and reach 
it. I was usually accompanied on these excur- 
sions by one or two smart, intelligent slaves, 
to whom I felt I could trust the secret of 
my visit. In this way I succeeded in circulating 
a knowledge of Canada, and the best means of 

Of an Abolitionist. 31 

reaching that country, to all the plantations for 
many miles around Vicksburg. I was often 
surprised at the rapidity with which informa- 
tion was conveyed to the slaves of distant 
plantations. Thus, on every plantation I had 
missionaries who were secretly conveying the 
intelligence to the poor downtrodden slaves of 
that benighted region, that in Canada there 
were hundreds of negroes who had, through 
the aid of friends along the border, escaped from 
slavery, and were now free men and women. 

No one but a slave can fully appreciate the 
true meaning of the word freedom. 

I continued my labours in the vicinity of 
Vicksburg for two months, and then went to 
Selma, Ala. 


I made this place my base for extensive excur- 
sions to the surrounding country, pursuing a 
similar course to that I adopted at Vicksburg. 
My ornithological collection had by this time 
assumed respectable and interesting proportions, 
and some of the planters became so much inter- 
ested in my apparent pursuit, as to offer me every 
facility to roam over their plantations, of which I 

32 Recollections and Experiences 

availed myself. I had my choice of assistants 
from among the slaves, and selected those pos- 
sessing qualities suitable for my purpose. There 
was not a plantation within fifteen miles of 
Selma that I did not visit successfully. The 
seed planted at Vicksburg and Selma fell upon 
rich soil, the products of which rapidly spread 
throughout the Gulf States, as was plainly 
evinced at the time of the Harper's Ferry inva- 
sion, when the planters in the interior of the 
South were surprised to find that their slaves 
were well informed about Canada, and the pur- 
poses and efforts of friends in the North to aid 
them in escaping from bondage. 


Having completed my labours at Selma, 
I selected Columbus, Mississippi, for my next 
field of labour. I had been at work in Columbus 
about two weeks when a difficulty occurred 
which, but for the faithfulness of a negro, would 
have ended in my death at the hands of an 
infuriated mob. During one of my visits to a 
plantation near Columbus, I met with a negro 
slave of more than ordinary intelligence. His 
master was a man of coarse and brutal instincts, 
who had burned the initials of his name into the 
flesh of several of his slaves, to render their 

Of an Abolitionist. N 33 

capture more certain in case they attempted to 
escape from this merciless wretch. I saw several 
of the victims of his cruelty, whose backs would 
forever bear the marks of his branding iron 
and lash. He was a veritable " Legree." On 
one of my excursions over his plantation I was 
accompanied by the slave mentioned. During 
our rambles he gave me a history of his life and 
sufferings, and expressed an earnest desire to 
gain his freedom. I felt that he could be relied 
upon, and imparted to him the secret object of 
my visit to the South. He listened with absorb- 
ing earnestness while I explained to him the 
difficulties and dangers he would have to encoun- 
ter on so long and perilous a journey. He, how- 
ever, declared his determination to make the 
attempt, saying, that death itself was preferable to 
his present existence. On the following day 
(Saturday) I again visited the plantation, and 
selected this slave for my companion. He 
informed me he had decided to start for Canada, 
as soon as he could communicate with a brother, 
who was a slave on a plantation a few miles 
distant. He wished to take this brother with 
him, if possible. I gave him instructions for 
his guidance after he should cross the Ohio river ; 
the names of friends at Evansville (Ind.), and 
Cleveland (Ohio), to whom he could apply for 
assistance. I also furnished him with a pistol, 

34 Recollections and Experiences 

knife, and pocket compass, and directed him 
to travel by night only until he reached friends 
north of the Ohio river. 


On the following Monday evening, while 
seated at the supper table of the hotel at which 
I was stopping, I heard loud and excited talking 
in the adjoining room. In a few minutes the 
landlord came up to me with an excited look, 

and said, " Col. wishes to speak with 

you. You had better go out and meet him." 
I immediately rose, and went into the room 
from which the loud talking emanated. As I 
entered, the Colonel, in a loud and brutal tone, 
said, " That's him, arrest him," Upon which a 
man stepped up and said, " You are my prisoner." 
I demanded the reason why I was arrested. 
Whereupon the doughty Colonel strode toward 
me with his fist clenched, and charged me with 

being a d d abolitionist; and said he would 

have my heart's blood ; that I had enticed away 
his nigger "Joe ;" that the nigger had not been 
seen since he went out with me on the previous 

The room was filled with an excited crowd 
of men, who glared upon me with fierce and 

Of an Abolitionist. 35 

fiendish looks. I tried to keep cool, but I con- 
fess I felt that my work was done. I knew the 
character of the Colonel, and also knew, that 
he possessed much influence with the worst class 
of Southerners of that section. 


In the meantime the constable had produced 
a pair of iron handcuffs, and fastened them 
around my wrists. After the Colonel had 
exhausted his supply of curses and coarse abuse 
upon me, for the purpose of exciting the crowd 
to hang me, I quietly asked if I would be 
allowed to say a few words, at the same time 
making a Masonic sign of distress, in hope that 
there might be a Mason in that crowd who would 
have courage sufficient to sustain my request. 
I had no sooner made "the sign of distress," 
than a voice near me said, " Yes, let's hear what 
he has to say"; in a moment several others spoke 
up and said, "He ought to be allowed to speak.'' 
I was encouraged, and very quietly said : Gentle- 
men, I am a total stranger here, without friends ; 
I am your prisoner in irons. You have charged 
me with violating your laws; will you act the part 

of cowards, by allowing this man (Col. ) to 

incite you to commit a murder ; or will you, like 
brave men, grant the only request I have to 

36 Recollections and Experiences 

make, that is, a fair trial before your magistrates. 
Several persons at once spoke up in my favour, 
among whom was the landlord 'and his brave 
little wife. 

I was then, much to the chagrin of the Col- 
onel, led to the lock-up, and consigned to a 
filthy pen. There I remained all through that 
dreary night, fearing to lie down on the straw in 
the corner, on account of the number of vermin 
that infested it. In fact, I dare not stand still 
through fear of being bitten by the rats that 
kept running about the floor all night. At 
length morning came, and I was taken, hand- 
cuffed, weary, hungry, and filled with dread, 
(of what appeared my impending fate), before 
a Justice. 


A crowd of people had gathered to see 
an abolitionist have the mockery of a trial. 
Col. "Legree" was asked by the Justice to state 
his case, which he did in true slave-driving style, 
as if determined to force the case against me. 
In fact, my case seemed hopeless. I saw no 
way of escape from my desperate situation. On 
every side I was surrounded by men apparently 
thirsting for my blood, and anxious to vindicate 
the outraged laws of the State of Mississippi. 

Of an Abolitionist. 37 

At length the Colonel finished his statement, 
which, reduced to simple facts, was, that I 
had called at his residence on Saturday last, 
and requested permission to roam over his 
plantation to shoot birds ; that he had given 
me permission, and allowed his servant "Joe" to 
accompany me; that "Joe" had not returned, 
nor could he be found ; that he was sure I had 
aided him to escape ; and demanded of the Jus- 
tice that I should be punished as a "negro 
thief" deserved. His remarks were" loudly ap- 
plauded by the slave-hounds that surrounded 

The Justice turned to me, and in a stern voice 
said, " Have you any thing to say ?" 

At this moment a voice outside the room 
shouted, " Here's Joe ! Here's Joe !" and a rush 
was made toward the door. 


" Joe" was ushered into the court room, and 
fell on his knees before the Colonel, asking his 
forgiveness for leaving the plantation without 
permission. He said he wanted to see his 
brother "powerful bad," and had gone to the 
plantation on which his brother lived, about 

38 Recollections and Experiences 

eight miles distant, on Saturday night, expecting 
to return by Sunday evening ; but having 
sprained his ancle, he could not move until 
Monday evening, when he started for home, 
travelling nearly all night. As soon as he 
reached the Colonel's, he was told of my arrest, 
and early that morning had come into Columbus 
to help me. The Justice ordered the constable 
to release me at once, and expressed his regret 
that I had been subjected to so much annoyance. 


The Colonel was completely chopfallen at the 
turn affairs had taken, while I was surrounded by 
several Masonic friends, who expressed their joy 
at my release. I addressed the Colonel, saying, 
that as he had put me to much inconvenience 
and trouble, I claimed a favour of him. He 
asked what it was. I begged him not to punish 
"Joe" for what he had done, and to allow me to 
present him with a gift as a mark of gratitude for 
his fidelity to me. As these favours were asked 
in the presence of the crowd, he could not very 
well refuse my request. He sulkily promised 
that "Joe" should not be punished, and said 
if I pleased I might make him a present. I then 
handed "Joe" twenty dollars in gold, for which 
the noble fellow looked a thousand thanks. 

Of an Abolitionist. 39 

I was thus enabled to evince my gratitude for 
what he had done for me, and at the same time 
present him with means to aid him in escaping 
from bondage. 

Two years after this occurrence, while dining 
at the American Hotel, in Boston, I observed a 
coloured waiter eyeing me very closely ; at last 
he recognised me, and asked if I remembered 
him. It was "Joe," my saviour, the former slave 
of Col. " Legree." I grasped the noble fellow's 
hand, and congratulated him, in the presence of 
all in the room, upon his escape from bondage. 
In the evening I invited him into the parlour, and 
introduced him to several influential friends, to 
whom, I narrated the incidents above related. 
He afterwards gave me some of the particulars 
of his escape from slavery, as follows : 

On the Sunday evening following my arrest, 
his brother joined him in a piece of woods not 
far from Col. "Legree's" plantation, where he 
had secreted sufficient food to last them several 


At midnight they started together, moving as 
rapidly as they could through fields and woods, 

4O Recollections and Experiences 

keeping the north star in front of them. When- 
ever it was possible they walked in the creeks 
and marshy grounds, to throw the slave-hunters 
off their tracks. Thus, night after night, they 
kept on their weary way, hungry and sorefooted. 
On the morning of the seventeenth day of their 
freedom, they reached the Ohio river, nearly 
opposite a large town. All day they lay secreted 
in the bushes, at night they found a small boat, 
with which they crossed the river, and travelled 
rapidly, taking a north-east course. They finally, 
after enduring many hardships, reached Cleve- 
land, Ohio, and went to the house of a friend 
whose name I had given "Joe." They were 
kindly received, and supplied with clothing and 
other comforts. After a week's rest they were 
sent to Canada, where his brother still lives. 
Before leaving Boston, I secured "Joe" a good 
situation in a mercantile house, where he re- 
mained for many years, rendering faithful service 
to his grateful employers. 


On the day following my release from peril, 
I took the stage for luka, a station on the 
Charleston and Memphis Railroad. There I 
purchased a through ticket for New York, which 
I took pains to exhibit to the landlord of the 

Of an Abolitionist. 41 

hotel, so that in case I was pursued, (as I cer- 
tainly would be, if "Joe" and his brother 
succeeded in escaping), he could state the fact 
of my having bought tickets for New York, 
which would probably check their pursuit. 

From luka I went to Huntsville, Ala., where 
I remained four weeks actively engaged in circu- 
lating information among the slaves. My next 
point was Augusta, Georgia. 


Finding that Augusta was favourably situated 
for my work, and that the slaves in that section 
were sharp and intelligent, I determined to make 
it my next field of labour. Having secured 
a good home with a Quaker family, I was soon 
actively engaged in collecting birds and insects, 
and in becoming acquainted with the more intel- 
ligent coloured people of that section. I deem 
it my duty to place upon record the fact, that 
among all the religious denominations in the 
South, none were more faithful to the principles 
of freedom, or to the dictates of humanity in 
respect to slavery, than the sect called Quakers. 
Wherever I have met the members of that society, 
whether in the North or South, they have always 
proved themselves friends in deed as well as 

42 Recollections and Experiences 

name. They could always be implicitly trusted 
by the poor fugitives flying from bondage. I 
know of many instances where, at great sacrifice 
and risk, they have shielded the outcasts from 
their pursuers the slave-hunters and United 
States marshals. Hundreds of the negroes of 
Canada will bear testimony to the unfailing 
fidelity of the peaceful and worthy Quakers of 
Ohio and Michigan. 


I laboured in Augusta for two months, and 
finally succeeded in equipping a party of eleven 
fine, active, intelligent slaves, for the long, dan- 
gerous, and weary journey to the north. No 
one not actually engaged in similar work, can 
clearly appreciate the extreme delicacy of my 
position. There was not a day, in fact scarcely 
an hour, that I did not live in expectation of 
exposure. The system of keen and constant 
espionage, in practice all over the Slave States, 
rendered it exceedingly necessary to exercise 
the greatest prudence in approaching the slaves. 
If a stranger was seen in conversation with a 
slave, he became at once an object of suspicion. 
I found, by experience, that a frank, open, and 
apparently indifferent course, proved the wisest. 
My ostensible scientific pursuits also opened a 

Of an Abolitionist. 43 

way for me to come in contact with the very 
classes of both whites and blacks best suited for 
my purposes. 

I was greatly aided in my work in Augusta, 
by a remarkably intelligent negro, who was 
coachman to a prominent citizen of that town. 
This man was chosen leader of the band of 
fugitives from Augusta, and proved the saviour 
of the whole party ; for they all arrived safely 
in Canada in less than two months from the time 
of their escape from bondage. Two members of 
this party are now living in Canada, and in good 

On the day following the exodus of these 
brave fellows, I quietly left the scene of my 
labours, and went to Charleston, S. C. 


On the third day after my arrival there, one of 
the Charleston papers contained a despatch from 
Augusta, which stated that several first-class 
negro men had disappeared from that place 
within a week ; and that a very general impres- 
sion prevailed there that abolitionists were at 
work inciting the negroes to escape from their 
masters. I left Charleston that evening, and 

44 Recollections and Experiences 

went to Raleigh, N. C. While at breakfast next 
morning, two men seated themselves near me, 
and entered into a conversation relative to the 
escape of slaves from Augusta. One of them 
remarked, that an Englishman who had been 
stopping in Augusta for several weeks was 
suspected, and that it was supposed he had gone 
with the fugitives, as he had not been seen since 
the slaves were missed. He said, if the aboli- 
tionist was caught, no mercy would be shown 
him, as it was time an example was made of the 
negro thieves that infested the South. 


Having finished my breakfast, I went to the 
office of the hotel, settled my bill, and to avoid 
suspicion enquired for the residence of a promi- 
nent pro-slavery man, a member of Congress. 
Having obtained the information, I bid the 
landlord good day, and left Raleigh by the first 
train, taking no rest until I reached Washington 
nearly six months from the time I landed in 
New Orleans. 


During my stay in Washington, I became 
acquainted with Mr. Sumner, at whose house I 

Of an Abolitionist. 45 

had the pleasure of meeting many distinguished 
people, who evinced a warm and kindly interest 
in my labours. The slaveholders, at that period, 
held the balance of power in the United States, 
and the Democratic party was used by them to 
strengthen the bonds that bound the coloured 
people of the South in the chains of slavery. 

The slave-masters were not satisfied with the 
recognized boundaries of their institution, and 
sought by every device to obtain some portion 
of the new territories of the south-west, in which 
they could carry their vile institution. Northern 
men of the Douglas and Seymour stamp were 
willing to yield to the slave lords, and even 
sacrifice the dearest interests of their country, 
providing they could advance their individual 
claims to the Presidency. The haughty and out- 
rageous demands of Davis, Mason, and Toombs, 
were abetted by the cowardly democratic politi- 
cians of the North. 

Towering above these contemptible political 
demagogues stood Charles Sumner, the brave 
champion of freedom. No prospect of political 
advancement could tempt him from the path 
of duty, Nor could the brutal threats and 
blows of his cowardly opponents, cause him to 
halt in his warfare for the rights of man. 

46 Recollections and Experiences 

Toward the end of April, 1858, I left Wash- 
ington for Philadelphia, and laid before my 
anti-slavery friends a report of my work. One 
venerable and talented Quaker lady, at whose 
house our re-union took place, and whose name 
had long keen identified with the cause of human 
freedom, tendered me the hearty congratulations 
of the organization on my safe return from the 
land of darkness and despair. 


While in Philadelphia a telegram was received 
from a friend in Evansville, Indiana, informing 
us that two fugitives had arrived there in a 
dilapidated condition, their emaciated bodies 
bearing the marks of many a bruise. I at 
once went to Evansville to render them such 
aid as I could. They were delighted to meet 
me again, and recalled an interview they 
had with me at Huntsville, Alabama. The 
poor fellows were kindly cared for, and after 
a few days' rest continued their journey to 
Canada, prepared to defend their right to 
own themselves against whoever might dis- 
pute it. The route travelled by these fugitives 
from Huntsville to the Ohio river was marked 
with their blood. Their escape was soon dis- 
covered, and persistent efforts made to capture 

Of an Abolitionist. 47 

them. They were followed for two days by a 
a blood-hound that was placed on their tracks, 
and which they succeeded in evading, by wading 
in the creeks and marshes ; but for forty-eight 
hours the deep baying of the hound was fre- 
quently heard. They travelled by night only, 
taking the north star as their guide, and by day 
they rested in secluded places. Their sufferings 
from hunger were very severe, which they were 
often obliged to relieve by eating frogs and 
other reptiles. Occasionally they succeeded in 
obtaining poultry from the hen-houses of the 
farmers on their route. 

From Evansville I returned to Philadelphia, 
and after a short stay in that city left for Boston, 
via Springfield. 



in stopped 

IT Springfield, Mass., the trail 

sufficiently long to enable the passen- 
gers to get supper. As I took my seat 
at the table I observed an elderly gentleman 
looking very earnestly at me. I felt sure I had 
seen him before somewhere ; but where and when 
I had quite forgotten. At length he recognized 
me, and taking a seat near me said, in a whisper, 
" How is the hardware business ?" The moment 
he spoke I remembered the voice, and recalled 
my old Cleveland acquaintance, Capt. John 
Brown, of Kansas. 


He was much changed in appearance, looking 
older and more careworn ; his face was covered 
with a long beard, nearly white ; his dress was 
plain, but good and scrupulously clean. There 

Of an Abolitionist. 49 

was no change in his voice or eye, both were 
indicative of strength, honesty, and tenacity of 
purpose. Learning that I was on my way to 
Boston, whither he was going on the following 
day, he urged me to remain in Springfield over 
night, and accompany him to Boston. After 
supper we retired to a private parlour, and he 
requested me to tell him all about my trip 
through Mississippi and Alabama. He remarked 
that our mutual friend, of Northern New York, 
had told him that when he last heard from 
'me, I was in Selma. He listened to the recital 
of my narrative, from the time I left New 
Orleans until my arrest at Columbus, with intense 
earnestness, without speaking, until I described 
my arrest and imprisonment, then his counte- 
nance changed, his eyes flashed, he paced the 
room in fiery wrath. I never witnessed a more 
intense manifestation of indignation, and scorn. 
Coming up to me, he took my wrists in his 
hands and said, " God alone brought you out 
of that hell ; and these wrists have been ironed, 
and you have been cast in prison for doing your 
duty. I vow, henceforth, that I will not rest in 
my labour until I have discharged my whole 
duty toward God, and toward my brother in 
bondage." When he ceased speaking he sat 
down and buried his face in his hands, in which 
position he sat for several minutes, as if overcome 

50 Recollections and Experiences 

by his feelings. At length, arousing himself, he 
asked me to continue my narrative, to which he 
listened earnestly during its recital. He said, 
" The Lord has permitted you to do a work that 
falls to the lot of but few"; taking a small Bible or 
Testament from his pocket, he said, " The good 
book says, 'Whatsoever ye would that men 
should do to you, do ye even so to them'; 
it teaches us further, to 'remember them in 
bonds, as bound with them.'" He continued, 
" I have devoted the last twenty years of my life 
to preparation for the work which, I believe, 
God has given me to do." He then gave 
me some details of a campaign which he 
was then actually preparing for, and which he 
said had occupied his mind for years. He 
intended to establish himself in the mountains 
of Virginia with a small body of picked men 
men in whom he could trust, and who feared 
God. He felt confident that the negroes 
would flock to him in large numbers, and that 
the slaveholders would soon be glad to let the 
oppressed go free; that the dread of a negro 
insurrection would produce fear and trembling 
in all the Slave States ; that the presence in the 
mountains of an armed body of Liberators would 
produce a general insurrection among the slaves, 
which would end in their freedom. He said he 
had about twenty-two Kansas men undergoing a 

Of an Abolitionist. 51 

course of military instruction ; these men would 
form a nucleous, around which he would soon 
gather a force sufficiently large and effective to 
strike terror throughout the Slave States. His 
present difficulty was, a deficiency of ready 
money ; he had been promised support to help 
the cause of freedom which was not forth- 
coming, now that he was preparing to carry 
the war into the South: His friends were disin- 
clined to aid offensive operations. 

During this interview, he informed me that he 
intended to call a Convention of the friends of 
the cause at Chatham, Canada, in a few weeks, 
for the purpose of effecting an organization 
composed of men who were willing to aid him 
in his purpose of invading the Slave States. 
He said he had rifles and ammunition sufficient 
to equip two hundred men ; that he had made a 
contract for a large number of pikes, with which 
he intended to arm the negroes ; that the 
object of his present trip to the East was, to 
raise funds to keep this contract, and perfect his 
arrangements for an attack upon the Slave 
States in the following September or October. 

Captain Brown accompanied me, on the fol- 
lowing day, to Boston. During our journey, 
he informed me that he required a thousand 

52 Recollections and Experiences 

dollars at least to complete his preparations ; 
that he needed money at once to enable 
him to keep a contract for arms with some 
manufacturer in Connecticut. He also needed 
money to bring his men from Iowa to 
Canada. On our arrival in Boston, I went to 
the house of a friend, and Capt. Brown took 
quarters at a hotel. I saw him every day while 
he remained in Boston ; and regretted to learn 
that he met with but little success in obtaining 
money. It appeared that those friends of the 
cause of freedom, who had an inkling of his 
project, were not disposed to advance money 
for warlike purposes, except such as were for 
the defence of free territory. He finally did 
succeed in raising about five hundred dollars. 
An impression prevailed, in the minds of many 
sincere friends of freedom, that the persecu- 
. tion of himself and family by the pro-slavery 
men of Kansas had so exasperated him that 
he would engage in some enterprize which 
would result in the destruction of himself 
and followers. I am persuaded that these 
impressions were groundless. I never heard 
him express any feeling of personal resent- 
ment towards the slaveholders. He at all 
times, while in my company, appeared to be 
controlled by a fixed, earnest, and unalterable 
determination to do what he considered to be 

Of an Abolitionist. 53 

his duty, as an agent in the hands of the Almighty, 
to give freedom to the slaves. That idea, and 
that alone, appeared to me to control his thoughts 
and actions. 

On the morning of his departure from Boston, 
I accompanied him to the depot, and bid him 
farewell. (I never again saw the brave old cap- 
tain in life.) A few days afterwards, however, 
I received the following 



May 5th, 1858. 


I have called a quiet Convention in 
this place of true friends of freedom. Your 
attendance is earnestly requested on the loth 
inst. * * * * 

Your Friend, 

(Fac-simile of Signature.) 

In consequence of my absence from Boston, I 
did not receive the above letter until the I3th of 
May three days after the time appointed for 
the meeting of the Convention. 

54 Recollections and Experiences 


During the summer of 1858 I visited Canada, 
and had great pleasure in meeting several of 
those who had, under my auspices, escaped from 
the land of bondage. In a barber shop, in 
Hamilton, I was welcomed by a man who had 
escaped from Augusta, and who kept, as a 
souvenir of my friendship, a dirk knife I had 
given him on the night he started for Canada. 
The meeting with so many of my former pupils, 
and the fact that they were happy, thriving, and 
industrious, gave me great satisfaction. The 
trials and dangers I had endured in their behalf 
were pleasing reminiscences to me, when sur- 
rounded by the prosperous and happy people 
whom I had striven to benefit. 

The information I obtained from the Canadian 
refugees, relative to their experiences while en 
ro?tte to Canada, enabled me in after years to 
render most valuable aid to other fugitives from 
the land of bondage. 

On the Qth of October, 1859, I was sur- 
prised to receive the following letter from 
Captain Brown, announcing his determination 
to make an attack on the slave States in the 
course of a few weeks. The letter reads as 
follows ; 

Of an Abolitionist. 55 


October 6th, 1859. 


I shall move about the last of this month. 
Can you help the cause in the way promised ? 
Address your reply to Isaac Smith, Chambers- 
burg, Penn. ****** 

Your friend, 



Soon after the reception of the above letter I 
left for Richmond, Virginia, much against the 
wishes of my friends. I had promised Captain 
Brown, during our interview at Springfield, Mass., 
that when he was ready to make his attack on 
the Slave States, I would go to Richmond and 
await the result. In case he should be suc- 
cessful in his attack, I would be in a position to 
watch the course of events, and enlighten the 
slaves as to his purposes. It might also be pos- 
sible for me to aid the cause in other respects. 
On my arrival in Richmond, I went to the house 
of an old friend, with whom I had stopped during 
my previous raid on the chattels of Virginia's 

56 Recollections and Experiences 


On the morning of Monday, the i/th of 
October, wild rumours were in circulation about 
the streets of Richmond that Harper's Ferry had 
been captured by a band of robbers ; and, again, 
that an army of abolitionists, under the command 
of a desperado by the name of Smith, was mur- 
dering the inhabitants of that village, and carry- 
ing off the negroes. Throughout the day, groups 
of excited men gathered about the newspaper 
offices to hear the news from Harper's Ferry. 

On the following morning (Tuesday) an official 
report was received, which stated the fact that a 
small force of abolitionists, under old Ossawatomie 
Brown, had taken possession of the U. S. build- 
ing at the Ferry, and had entrenched themselves. 
I met an aged negro in the street, who seemed 
completely bewildered about the excitement and 
military preparations going on around him. As 
I approached him, he lifted his hat and said: 
" Please massa, what's the matter ? What's the 
soldiers called out for?" I told him a band 
of abolitionists had seized Harper's Ferry, and 
liberated many of the slaves of that section ; 
that they intended to free all the slaves in the 
South, if they could. "Can dey do it, massa?" 
he asked, while his countenance brightened up. 

Of an Abolitionist. 57 

I replied by asking him, if he wished to be free ? 
He said : " O yes, massa ; I'se prayed for dat 
dese forty years. My two boys are way off in 
Canada. Do you know whar dat is, massa ?" I 
told him I was a Canadian, which seemed to 
give him a great surprise. He said his two 
boys had run away from their master, because 
he threatened to take them to New Orleans for 

That John Brown had struck a blow that 
resounded throughout the Slave States was 
evident, from the number of telegraph des- 
patches from all the Slave States, offering aid 
to crush the invasion. 


The people of Richmond were frantic with 
rage at this daring interference with their 
cherished institution, which gave them the right 
to buy, beat, 'work, and sell their fellow men. 
Crowds of rough, excited men, filled with whis- 
key and wickedness, stood for hours together in 
front of the offices of the Despatch and Enquirer, 
listening to the reports as they were announced 
from within. When the news of Brown's defeat 
and capture, and the destruction of his little 
army, was read from the window of the Despatch 

58 Recollections and Experiences 

office, the vast crowds set up a demoniac yell of 
delight, which to me sounded like a death knell 
to all my hopes for the freedom of the enslaved. 
As the excitement was hourly increasing, and 
threats made to search the city for abolitionists, 
I saw that nothing could be gained by remaining 
in Richmond. I left for Washington, nearly 
crushed in spirit at the destruction of Captain 
Brown and his noble little band. On the train 
were Southerners from many of the Slave States, 
who expressed their views of Northern aboli- 
tionists in the most emphatic slave-driving 
language. The excitement was intense, every 
stranger, especialty if he looked like a North- 
erner, was closely watched, and in some instances 
subjected to inquisition. 


The attitude of many of the leading Northern 
politicians and so-called statesmen, in Washing- 
ton, was actually disgusting. These weak-kneed 
and craven creatures were profuse in their apol- 
ogies for Brown's assault, and hastened to divest 
themselves of what little manhood they pos- 
sessed, when in the presence of the braggarts 
and women-whippers of the South. "What 
can we do to conciliate the Slave States?" 
was the leading question of the day. Such men 

Of an Abolitionist. 09 

as Crittenden, and Douglas, were ready to com- 
promise with the slaveholders even at the sac- 
rifice of their avowed principles. While Toombs, 
Davis, Mason, Slidell, and the rest of the slave- 
driving crew, haughtily demanded further gua- 
rantees for the protection of their " institution ;" 
and had it not been for the stand taken by 
the people of the Northern States at that time, 
their political leaders would have bound the 
North, hand and foot, to do the bidding of the 
slaveholders. But on that occasion, as well as 
all others where the principles of freedom have 
been involved, the people of the United States 
were found worthy descendants of their revolu- 
tionary sires. 


The blow struck at Harper's Ferry, which the 
Democratic leaders affected to ridicule, had 
startled the slaveholders from their dreams of 
security, and sent fear and trembling into every 
home in the Slave States. On every plantation 
the echoes from Harper's Ferry were heard. The 
poor terrified slave, as he laid down at night, 
weary from his enforced labours, offered up a 
prayer to God for the safety of the grand old 
captain, who was a prisoner in the hands of mer- 
ciless enemies, who were thirsting for his blood. 

60 Recollections and Experiences 


How bravely John Brown bore himself while 
in the presence of the human wolves that sur- 
rounded him, as he lay mangled and torn in 
front of the engine-house at Harper's Ferry ! 
Mason, of Virginia, and that Northern renegade, 
Vallandigham, interrogated the apparently dying 
man, trying artfully, but in vain, to get him to 
implicate leading Northern men. In the history 
of modern times there is not recorded another 
instance of such rare heroic valour as John 
Brown displayed in the presence of Governor 
Wise, of Virginia. How contemptible are Mason, 
Wise, and Vallandigham, when compared with 
the wounded old soldier, as he lay weltering in 
his blood, and near him his two sons, Oliver 
and Watson, cold in death. Mason and Vallan- 
digham died with the stain of treason on their 
heads, while Governor Wise, who signed Brown's 
death warrant, still lives, despised and abhorred. 

To superficial observers, Brown's attack on 
Virginia with so small a force, looked like the 
act .of a madman; but those who knew John 
Brown, and the men under his command, are 
satisfied that if he had carried out his original 
plans, and retreated with his force to the moun- 
tains, after he had captured the arms in the arsenal, 

Of an Abolitionist. 61 

he could have defeated and baffled any force 
sent against him. The slaves would have flocked 


to his standard in thousands, and the slaveholders 
would have trembled with fear for the safety of 
their families. 


John Brown in prison, surrounded by his cap- 
tors, won greater victories than if he had con- 
quered the South by force of arms. His courage, 
truthfulness, humanity, and self-sacrificing devo- 
tion to the cause of the poor downtrodden slaves, 
shamed the cowardly, weak-kneed, and truculent 
Northern politicians into opposition to the 
haughty demands of the despots of the South. 


Virginia, in her pride and strength, judicially 
murdered John Brown. But the day is not far 
distant when the freedmen and freemen of 
the South will erect a monument on the spot 
where his gallows once stood, to perpetuate to 
all coming generations the noble self-sacrifice of 
that brave Christian martyr. And when the 
Southern statesmen who shouted for his execu- 
tion are mouldering in the silent dust, forgotten 
or unpleasantly remembered, the memory of 
John Brown will grow brighter and brighter 
through all coming ages. 

62 Recollections and Experiences 


December the 2nd, was the day appointed for 
the execution of Capt. Brown. I determined to 
make an effort to see him once more if possible. 
Taking the cars at Baltimore, on Nov. 26th, I 
went to Harper's Ferry and applied to the mili- 
tary officer in command for permission to go to 
Charleston. He enquired what object I had in 
view in wishing to go there at that time, while 
so much excitement existed. I replied, that I 
had a desire to see John Brown once more 
before his death. Without replying to me, he 
called an officer in the room and directed him 
to place me in close confinement until the train 
for Baltimore came, and then to place me on 
board, and command the conductor to take me 
to Baltimore. Then, raising his voice, he said, 
"Captain, if he (myself) returns to Harper's 
Ferry, shoot him at once." I was placed 
under guard until the train came in, when, in 
despite of my protests, I was taken to Baltimore. 
Determined to make one more attempt, I went 
to Richmond to try and obtain a pass from the 
Governor. After much difficulty I obtained an 


I told the Governor that I had a strong desire 
to see John Brown before his execution ; that I 

Of an Abolitionist. 63 

had some acquaintance with him, and had formed 
a very high estimate of him as a man. I asked 
him to allow me to go to Charlestown (under sur- 
veillance if he pleased), and bid the old Captain 
" Good bye." The Governor made many inqui- 
ries as to my relation to Brown, and whether 
I justified his attack on Virginia. I replied 
candidly, stating that I had from childhood been 
an ardent admirer of Washington, Jefferson, and 
Madison, and that all these great and good men 
deplored the existence of slavery in the Republic. 
That my admiration and friendship for John 
Brown was owing to his holding similar views, 
and his earnest desire to abolish the evil. The 
Governor looked at me with amazement, and for a 
moment made no reply. At length he straight- 
ened himself up, and, assuming a dignified look, 
said, " My family motto is, ' sapere ande? I am 
wise enough to understand your object in wishing 
to go to Charlestown, and I dare you to go. If you 
attempt it, I will have you shot. It is just such 
men as you who have urged Brown to make his 
crazy attack on our constitutional rights and 
privileges. You shall not leave Richmond until 
after the execution of Brown. I wish I could 
hang a dozen of your leading abolitionists." 

64 Recollections and Experiences 


" If I could bag old Giddings and Gerrit Smith, 
I would hang them without trial." The Gov- 
ernor was now greatly excited, and, rising from 
his chair, he said, " No, sir ! you shall not leave 
Richmond. You shall go to prison, and remain 
there until next Monday ; then you may go 
North, and slander the State which ought to 
have hanged you." I quietly waited a moment 
before replying, and then remarked, that as he 
refused me permission to see Capt. Brown, I 
would leave Virginia at once, and thus save both 
him and the State any trouble or expense on 
my account. I said this very quietly, while his 
keen eyes were riveted on me. In reply, he 
said, " Did I not tell you that you should remain 
a prisoner here until Monday ?" I quietly said, 
" Yes, Governor, you certainly did ; but I am 
sure the executive of this great State is too" wise 
to fear one unarmed man." For a few moments 
he tapped the table with his fingers, without 
saying anything. Then he came toward me, 
shaking his fore finger, and said : " Well, you 
may go ; and I would advise you to tell your 
Giddings, Greeleys, and Garrisons, cowards that 
they are, to lead the next raid on Virginia 

Of an Abolitionist. 6$ 

Fearing that obstacles might be thrown in my 
way which would cause detention and trouble, 
I requested the Governor to give me a permit 
to leave the State of Virginia. Without making 
any reply, he picked up a blank card, and wrote 
as follows : 

" The bearer, is hereby ordered to leave the 
State of Virginia within twenty-four hours." 

(Fac-simile of Signature.) 

This he handed me, saying, " The sooner you 
go, the better for you : our people are greatly 
excited, and you may regret this visit, if you 
stay another hour." 

I returned to Philadelphia as rapidly as pos- 
sible, where I remained until the remains of 
Capt. Brown arrived, en route for their final 
resting place at North Elba, in Northern New 
York. Having taken my last look at the dead 
liberator, I returned to Canada, where I remained 
until my preparations were completed for another 
visit to the South. 

66 Recollections and Experiences 


The following Extracts from the Press of that 
period, will furnish my readers with a good index 
of the popular feeling respecting John Brown's 
raid, and his defeat, imprisonment, trial, and 
execution : 

From Harper's Weekly, October 29, 1859. 


One of the most extraordinary events that 
ever occurred in our history took place last 
week at Harper's Ferry. We shall endeavour 
to give our readers a connected history of the 
affair, which, at the present time, has been 
brought to a close. 


The first active movement in the insurrection 
was made at about half-past ten o'clock on 
Sunday night. William Williamson, the watch- 
man at Harper's Ferry bridge, while walking 
across toward the Maryland side, was seized 
by a number of men, who said he was their 

Of an Abolitionist. 67 

prisoner, and must come with them. He recog- 
nized Brown and Cook among the men, and 
knowing them, treated the matter as a joke, 
but enforcing silence, they conducted him to the 
Armory, which he found already in their posses- 
sion. He was detained till after daylight, and 
then discharged. The watchman who was to 
relieve Williamson at midnight found the bridge 
lights all out, and was immediately seized. 
Supposing it an attempt at robbery, he broke 
away, and his pursuers stumbling over him, he 


The next appearance of the insurrectionists 
was at the house of Colonel Lewis Washington, 
a large farmer and slave-owner, living about 
four miles from the ferry. A party, headed 
by Cook, proceeded there, and rousing Colonel 
Washington, told him he was their prisoner. 
They also seized all the slaves near the house, 
took a carriage horse, and a large waggon with 
two horses. When Colonel Washington saw 
Cook, he immediately recognized him as the 
man who had called upon him some months 
previous, to whom he had exhibited some valu- 
able arms in his possession, including an antique 
sword presented by Frederick the Great to 

68 Recollections and Experiences 

George Washington, and a pair of pistols pre- 
sented by Lafayette to Washington, both being 
heir-looms in the family. Before leaving, Cook 
wanted Colonel Washington to engage in a trial 
of skill at shooting, and exhibited considerable 
skill as a marksman. When he made the visit 
on Sunday night he alluded to his previous 
visit, and the courtesy with which he had been 
treated, and regretted the necessity which made 
it his duty to arrest Colonel Washington. He, 
however, took advantage of the knowledge he 
had obtained by his former visit to carry off 
all the valuable collection of arms, which the 
Colonel did not re-obtain till after the final 
defeat of the insurrection. 

From Colonel Washington's he proceeded with 
him as a prisoner in the carriage, and twelve of 
his negroes in the waggon, to the house of Mr. 
Alstadt, another large farmer, on the same road. 
Mr. Alstadt and his son, a lad of sixteen, were 
taken prisoners, and all their negroes within 
reach forced to join the movement. He then 
returned to the Armory at the Ferry. 


At the upper end of the town the mail train 
arrived at the usual hour, when a coloured man, 

Of an Abolitionist. 69 

who acted as assistant to the baggage-master, 
was shot, receiving a mortal wound, and the 
conductor, Mr. Phelps, was threatened with 
violence if he attempted to proceed with the 
train. Feeling uncertain as to the condition of 
affairs, the conductor waited until after daylight 
before he ventured to proceed, having delayed 
the train six hours. 

Luther Simpson, baggage-master of the mail- 
train, gives the following particulars : I walked 
up the bridge ; was stopped, but was afterward 
permitted to go up and see the captain of the 
insurrectionists ; I was taken to the Armory, and 
saw the captain, whose name is Bill Smith ; I 
was kept prisoner for more than an hour, and 
saw from five to six hundred negroes, all having 
arms ; there were two or three hundred white 
men with them ; all the houses were closed. 
I went into a tavern kept by Mr. Chambers ; 
thirty of the inhabitants were collected there 
with arms. They said most of the inhabitants 
had left, but they declined, preferring to protect 
themselves ; it was reported that five or six 
persons had been shot. 


Mr. Simpson was escorted back over the bridge 
by six negroes. 

7O Recollections and Experiences 


It was not until the town thoroughly waked 
up, and found the bridge guarded by armed 
men, and a guard stationed at all the avenues, 
that the people saw that they were prisoners. 
A panic appears to have immediately ensued, 
and the number of insurrectionists was at once 
largely increased. In the mean time a number 
of workmen, not knowing anything of what had 
occurred, entered the Armory, and were succes- 
sively taken prisoners, until at one time they had 
not less than sixty men confined in the Armory. 
These were imprisoned in the engine-house, 
which afterward became the chief fortress of the 
insurgents, and were not released until after the 
final assault. The workmen were imprisoned in 
a large building further down the yard. 


A coloured man, named Hayward, a railroad 
porter, was shot early in the morning for refusing 
to join in the movement. 

The next man shot was Joseph Burley, a 
citizen of Perry. He was shot standing in his 
own door. The insurrectionists by this time, 
finding a disposition to resist them, had with- 

Of an Abolitionist. 71 

drawn nearly all within the Armory grounds, 
leaving only a guard on the bridge. 

About this time, also, Samuel P. Young, Esq., 
was shot dead. He was coming into town on 
horseback, carrying a gun, when he was shot 
from the Armory, receiving a wound of which 
he died during the day. He was a graduate of 
West Point, and greatly respected in the neigh- 
bourhood for his high character and noble 

The lawn in front of the engine-house after the 
assault presented a dreadful sight. Lying on it 
were two bodies of men killed on the previous 
day, and found inside the house ; three wounded 
men, one of them just at the last gasp of life, 
and two others groaning in pain. One of the 
dead was Brown's son. Oliver, the wounded 
man, and his son Watson, were lying on the 
grass, the father presenting a gory spectacle. He 
had a severe bayonet wound in his side, and his 
face and hair were clotted with blood. 


When the insurgents were brought out, some 
dead, others wounded, they were greeted with 
execrations, and only the precautions that had 

72 Recollections and Experiences 

been taken saved them from immediate execu- 
tion. The crowd, nearly every man of which 
carried a gun, swayed with tumultuous excite- 
ment, and cries of " Shoot them ! shoot them !" 
rang from every side. The appearance of the 
liberated prisoners, all of whom, through the 
steadiness of the marines, escaped injury, changed 
the current of feeling, and prolonged cheers took 
the place of howls and execrations. 


A short time after Captain Brown was brought 
out, he revived and talked earnestly to those 
about him, defending his course, and avowing 
that he had done only what was right. He re- 
plied to questions substantially as follows : "Are 
you Captain Brown, of Kansas ?" " I am some- 
times called so." "Are you Ossawatamie Brown?" 
"I tried to do my duty there." "What was 
your present object ?" " To free the slaves from 
bondage." " Were any other persons but those 
with you now connected with the movement ?" 
"No." "Did you expect aid from the North?" 
" No ; there was no one connected with the 
movement but those who came with me." " Did 
you expect to kill people to carry your point ?" 
" I did not wish to do so, but you force us to 
it." Various questions of this kind were put to 

Of an Abolitionist, 73 

Captain Brown, which he answered clearly and 
freely, with seeming anxiety to vindicate himself. 
He urged that he had the town at his mercy : 
that he could have burned it, and murdered the 
inhabitants, but did not ; he had treated the 
prisoners with courtesy, and complained that he 
was hunted down like a beast. He spoke of the 
killing of his son, which he alleged was done 
while bearing a flag of truce, and seemed very 
anxious for the safety of his wounded son. His 
conversation bore the impression of the convic- 
tion that whatever he had done to free the slaves 
was right ; and that, in the warfare in which he 
was engaged, he was entitled to be treated with 
all the respect of a prisoner of war. 


During Tuesday morning, one of Washington's 
negroes came in and reported that Captain 
Cook was on the mountain, only three miles off ; 
about the same time some shots were said to 
have been fired from the Maryland hills, and a 
rapid fusilade was returned from Harper's Ferry. 
The Independent Grays of Baltimore imme- 
diately started on a scouting expedition, and in 
two hours returned with two waggons loaded 
with arms and ammunition, found at Captain 
Brown's house. 

74 Recollections and Experiences 

The arms consisted of boxes filled with Sharp's 
rifles, pistols, &c., all bearing the stamp of the 
Massachusetts Manufacturing Company, Chico- 
pee, Mass. There were also found a quantity of 
United States ammunition, a large number of 
spears, sharp iron bowie-knives fixed upon poles, 
a terrible looking weapon, intended for the use 
of the negroes, with spades, pickaxes, shovels, 
and everything else that might be needed : thus 
proving that the expedition was well provided 
for, that a large party of men were expected to 
be armed, and that abundant means had been 
provided to pay all expenses. 

How all these supplies were got up to this farm 
without attracting observation, is very strange. 
They are supposed to have been brought through 
Pennsylvania. The Grays pursued Cook so fast 
that they secured a part of his arms, but with 
his more perfect knowledge of localities, he was 
enabled to evade them. 


The citizens imprisoned by the insurrection- 
ists all testify to their lenient treatment. They 
were neither tied nor insulted, and, beyond the 
outrage of restricting their liberty, were not ill- 
used. Capt. Brown was always courteous to 

Of an Abolitionist. 75 

them, and at all times assured them that they 
would not be injured. He explained his pur- 
poses to them, and while he had them (the work- 
men) in confinement, made no abolition speech 
to them. Colonel Washington speaks of him as 
a man of extraordinary nerve. He never 
blanched during the assault, though he admitted 
in the night that escape was impossible, and that 
he would have to die. When the door was 
broken down, one of his men exclaimed, " I sur- 
render." The Captain immediately cried out, 
" There's one surrenders ; give him quarter ;" 
and at the same moment fired his own rifle at 
the door. 

During the previous night he spoke freely with 
Colonel Washington, and referred to his sons. 
He said he had lost one in Kansas and two here. 
He had not pressed them to join him in the 
expedition, but did not regret their loss they 
had died in a glorious cause. 


On the 1 8th a detachment of marines and 
some volunteers made a visit to Brown's house. 
They found a large quantity of blankets, boots, 
shoes, clothes, tents, and fifteen hundred pikes, 
with large blades affixed. They also discovered 

76 Recollections and Experiences 

a carpet-bag, containing documents throwing 
much light on the affair, printed constitutions 
and by-laws of an organization, showing or indi- 
cating ramifications in various States of the 
Union. They also found letters from various in- 
dividuals at the North one from Fred. Douglass, 
containing ten dollars from a lady for the cause ; 
also a letter from Gerrit Smith about money 
matters, and a check or draft by him for $100, 
indorsed by the cashier of a New York bank, 
name not recollected. All these are in posses- 
sion of Governor Wise. 


Reporter of the Herald. I do not wish to 
annoy you ; but, if you have any thing further 
you would like to say, I will report it. 

Mr. Brown. I have nothing to say, only that 
I claim to be here in carrying out a measure I 
believe perfectly justifiable, and not to act the 
part of an incendiary or ruffian, but to aid those 
suffering great wrong. I wish to say, further- 
more, that you had better all you people at 
the South prepare yourselves for a settlement 
of that question that must come up for settle- 
ment sooner than you are prepared for it. The 
sooner you are prepared the better. You may 

Of an Abolitionist. Jj 

dispose of me very easily. I am nearly disposed 
of now ; but this question is still to be settled 
this negro question, I mean ; the end of that is 
not yet. These wounds were inflicted upon me 
both sabre cuts on my head and bayonet stabs 
on different parts of my body some minutes 
after I had ceased fighting, and had consented to 
a surrender, for the benefit of others, not for my 
own. (This statement was vehemently denied 
by all around.) I believe the Major (meaning 
Lieutenant J. B. Stuart, of the United States 
Cavalry) would not have been alive I could 
have killed him just as easy as a mosquito when 
he came in, but I supposed he came in only to 
receive our surrender. There had been loud and 
long calls of "surrender" from us as loud as 
men could yell but in the confusion and excite- 
ment I suppose we were not heard. I do not 
think the Major, or any one, meant to butcher 
us after we had surrendered. 


Brown has had a conversation with Senator 
Mason, which is reported in the Heerald. The 
following is a verbatim report of the conversa- 
tion : 

Mr. Mason. Can you tell us, at least, who 
furnished money for your expedition ? 

78 Recollections and Experiences 

Mr. Brown. I furnished most of it myself. I 
can not implicate others. It is by my own folly 
that I have been taken. I could easily have 
saved myself from it had I exercised my own 
better judgment, rather than yielded to my 

Mr. Mason. You mean if you had escaped 
immediately ? 

Mr. Brown. No ; I had the means to make 
myself secure without any escape, but I allowed 
myself to be surrounded by a force by being 
too tardy. 

Mr. Mason. But you killed some people pass- 
ing along the streets quietly. 

Mr. Brown. Well, sir, if there was any thing 
of that kind done it was without my knowledge. 
Your own citizens, who were my prisoners, will 
tell you that every possible means was taken to 
prevent it. I did not allow my men to fire, nor 
even to return a fire, when there was danger of 
killing those we regarded as innocent persons, if 
I could help it. They will tell you that we 
allowed ourselves to be fired at repeatedly, and 
did not return it. 

Of an Abolitionist. 79 

A By-stander. That is not so. You killed 
an unarmed man at the corner of the house 
over there (at the water tank), and another 

Mr. Brown. See here, my friend, it is useless 
to dispute or contradict the report of your own 
neighbors who were my prisoners. 

Mr. Mason. If you would tell us who sent 
you here who provided the means that would 
w& information of some value. 

Mr. Brown. I will answer freely and faith- 
fully about what concerns myself I will answer 
any thing I can with honor, but not about 

Mr. Mason. How many are engaged with 
you in this movement ? I ask those questions 
for our own safety. 

Mr. Brown. Any questions that I can honor- 
ably answer I will, not otherwise. So far as I 
am myself concerned, I have told every thing 
truthfully. I value my word, sir. 

Mr, Mason. What was your object in coming? 

So Recollections and Experiences 

Mr. Brown. We came to free the slaves, and 
only that. 

A Young Man (in the uniform of a volunteer 
company). How many men in all had you ? 

Mr. Brown. I came to Virginia with eighteen 
men only, besides myself. 

Volunteer. What in the world did you sup- 
pose you could do here in Virginia with that 
amount of men ? 

Mr. Brown. Young man, I don't wish to 
discuss that question here. 

Volunteer. You could not do any thing. 

Mr. Brown. Well, perhaps your ideas and 
mine on military subjects would differ materi- 

Mr. Mason. How do you justify your acts ? 

Mr. Brown. I think, my friend, you are guilty 
of a great wrong against God and humanity I 
say it without wishing to be offensive and it 
would be perfectly right for any one to interfere 
with you so far as to free those you wilfully and 
wickedly hold in bondage. I do not say this 

Mr. Mason. I understand that. 

Of an Abolitionist. 81 

Mr. Brown. I think I did right, and that 
others will do right who interfere with you at 
any time and all times. I hold that the golden 
rule, " Do unto others as you would that others 
should do unto you," applies to all who would 
help others to gain their liberty. 



Mr. Mason. Did you consider this a military 
organization, in this paper (the Constitution) ? 
I have not read it. 

Mr. Brown. I did in some sense. I wish you 
would give that paper close attention. 

Mr. Mason. You considered yourself the 
Commander- in- Chief of these " provisional " 
military forces ? 

Mr. Brown. I was chosen, agreeably to the 
ordinance of a certain document, Commander- 
in-Chief of that force. 

Mr. Mason. What wages did you offer ? 
Mr. Brown. None. 

Lieutenant Stuart. "The wages of sin is 

Mr. Brown. I would not have made such a 

82 Recollections and Experiences 

remark to you if you had been a prisoner and 
wounded in my hands. 

A By-stander. Did you not promise a negro 
in Gettysburg twenty dollars a month ? 

Mr. Brown. I did not. 
By-stander. He says you did. 



Mr. Vallandigham. Did you expect a general 
rising of the slaves in case of your success ? 

Mr. Brown. No, sir ; nor did I wish it. I 
expected to gather them up from time to time 
and set them free. 

Mr. Vallandigham. Did you expect to hold 
possession here till then ? 

Mr. Brown. Well, probably I had quite a 
different idea. I do not know that I ought to 
reveal my plans. I am here a prisoner and 
wounded, because I foolishly allowed myself to 
be so. You overrate your strength in supposing 
I could have been taken if I had not allowed 
it. I was too tardy after commencing the open 
attack in delaying my movements through 
Monday night, and up to the time I was 

Of an Abolitionist. 83 

attacked by the Government troops. It was all 
occasioned by my desire to spare the feelings 
of my prisoners and their families and the com- 
munity at large. I had no knowledge of the 
shooting of the negro (Heywood). 

Mr. Vallandigham. What time did you com- 
mence your organization in Canada. 

Mr. Brown. That occurred about two years 
ago, if I remember right. It was, I think, in 

Mr. Vallandigham. Who was the secretary ? 

Mr. Brown. That I could not tell if I recol- 
lected, but I do not recollect. I think the 
officers were elected in May, 1858. I may 
answer incorrectly, but not intentionally. My 
head is a little confused by wounds, and my 
memory obscure on dates, etc. 


A writer in the Baltimore Exchange, gives the 
following account of the personal appearance of 
the insurgents : 

Old Brown, the leader, is a small man, with 
white head, and cold-looking grey eyes. When 
not speaking his lips are compressed, and he has 
the appearance of a most determined man. His 

84 Recollections and Experiences 

two sons (one dead) were strikingly alike in their 
personal appearance. Each about five feet eleven 
inches high, with spare visage, sallow complexion, 
sunken eyes, and dark hair and beard. The 
beard was sparse and long, and their hair long 
and matted. The wounded man is of undoubted 
courage, and from his cold sullen manner, one 
would suppose did not ask for or desire sym- 
pathy. Anderson, mortally wounded, is tall, 
black-haired, and of dark complexion. His ap- 
pearance is indicative of desperate resolution. 
Although suffering the most intense agony from 
the wound in the abdomen, he did not complain, 
or ask for any favour, and the only evidence he 
gave of suffering, was occasionally a slight groan. 
He looks to be thirty years of age. Stevens, 
who was wounded on Monday afternoon, and 
taken prisoner, is physically a model man. He 
is five feet eleven inches high, with fine brawny 
shoulders and large sinewy limbs, all the muscles 
finely developed and hard. He is of dark com- 
plexion, and of undoubted resolution. When 
taken prisoner, he did not ask or expect quarter, 
and lay and suffered from his wounds without 
complaint other than a groan. 


A fresh attempt of Brown's to have the trial 
postponed in order to obtain counsel from the 

Of an Abolitionist. 85 

North having failed, the case was proceeded 

The jury having been sworn to fairly and im- 
partially try the prisoner, the Court directed 
that the prisoner might forego the form of stand- 
ing while arraigned, if he desired it. 

Mr. Botts put the enquiry to the prisoner, and 
he continued to lie prostrate on his cot while the 
long indictment, rilling seven pages, was read : 

First For conspiring with negroes to produce 
insurrection ; 

Second For treason to the Commonwealth ; 

Third For murder. 


The case was then opened at length by Messrs. 
Harding and Hunter for the Commonwealth, and 
by Messrs. Botts and Green for the prisoner. 


Mr. Brown then arose, and said : " I do not 
intend to detain the Court, but barely wish to 
say, as I have been promised a fair trial, that I 

86 Recollections and Experiences 

am not now in circumstances that enable me to 
attend a trial, owing to the state of my health. 
I have a severe wound in the back, or rather in 
one kidney, which enfeebles me very much. But 
I am doing well ; and I only ask for a very 
short delay of my trial, and I think that I may 
be able to listen to it ; and I merely ask this, 
that as the saying is, 'the devil may have his 
dues' no more. I wish to say further, that my 
hearing is impaired and rendered indistinct in 
consequence of wounds I have about my head. 
I cannot hear distinctly at all ; I could not hear 
what the Court has said this morning. I would 
be glad to hear what is said on my trial, and am 
now doing better than 1 could expect to be under 
the circumstances. A very short delay would be 
all I would ask. I do not presume to ask more 
than a very short delay, so that I may in some 
degree recover, and be able at least to listen to 
my trial, and hear what questions are asked of 
the citizens, and what their answers are. If that 
could be allowed me, I should be very much 

At the conclusion of Brown's remarks, the 
Court assigned Charles J. Faulkner and Lawson 
Botts as counsel for the prisoners. 

Of an Abolitionist. 87 


The examination before the magistrates then 
proceeded. The evidence given was much the 
same as that which we published last week. It 
established the main facts charged against Brown, 
but showed that he had treated the prisoners 
humanely. At the close of the examination, the 
case was given to the Grand Jury, who found a 
true bill next day. 


At twelve o'clock on the 26th, the Court reas- 
sembled. The Grand Jury reported a true bill 
against the prisoners, and were discharged. 

Charles B. Harding, assisted by Andrew Hun- 
ter, represented the Commonwealth ; and Charles 
J. Faulkner and Lawson Botts are counsel for the 

A true bill was read against each prisoner: 

First For conspiring with negroes to produce 
insurrection ; 

Second For treason to the Commonwealth ; 

Third For murder. 

88 Recollections and Experiences 

The prisoners were brought into Court accom- 
panied by a body of armed men. They passed 
through the streets and entered the Court-house 
without the slightest demonstration on the part 
of the people. 

Brown looked somewhat better, and his eye 
was not so much swollen. Stevens had to be 
supported, and reclined on a mattress on the floor 
of the Court-room, evidently unable to sit. He 
has the appearance of a dying man, breathing 
with great difficulty. 

Before the reading of the arraignment, Mr. 
Hunter called the attention of the Court to the 
necessity of appointing additional counsel for 
the prisoners, stating that one of the counsel 
(Faulkner) appointed by the County Court, con- 
sidering his duty in that capacity as having 
ended, had left. The prisoners, therefore, had 
no other counsel than Mr. Botts. If the Court 
was about to assign them other counsel, it might 
be proper to do so now. 

The Court stated that it would assign them 
any member of the bar they might select. 

After consulting Captain Brown, Mr. Botts 
said that the prisoner retained him, and desired 

Of an Abolitionist. 89 

to have Mr. Green, his assistant, to assist him. 
If the Court would accede to that arrangement 
it would be very agreeable to him personally. 

The Court requested Mr. Green to act as 
counsel for the prisoner, and he consented to 
do so. 

Old Brown addressed the Court as follows : 

Virginians. I did not ask for any quarter at 
the time I was taken. I did not ask to have my 
life spared. The Governor of the State of Vir- 
ginia tendered me his assurance that I should 
have a fair trial ; but under no circumstances 
whatever will I be able to have a fair trial. If 
you seek my blood, you can have it at any 
moment, without this mockery of a trial. I 
have had no counsel ; I have not been able to 
advise with any one. I know nothing about the 
feelings of my fellow prisoners, and am utterly 
unable to attend in any way to my own defence. 
My memory don't serve me ; my health is 
insufficient, although improving. There are 
mitigating circumstances that I would urge in 
our favour if a fair trial is to be allowed us ; 
but if we are to be farced with a mere form 
a trial for execution you might spare your- 
selves that trouble. I am ready for my fate. 

90 Recollections and Experiences 

I do not ask a trial. I beg for no mockery 
of a trial no insult nothing but that which 
conscience gives or cowardice would drive you 
to practise. I ask again to be excused from the 
mockery of a trial. I do not even know what 
the special design of this examination is. I do 
not know what is to be the benefit of it to the 
Commonwealth. I have now little further to 
ask, other than that I may not be foolishly 
insulted, only as cowardly barbarians insult 
those who fall into their power. 


On Monday, 3ist ult, Mr. Griswold summed 
up for the defence, and Mr. Harding for the 
Commonwealth of Virginia. 

During most of the arguments Brown lay on 
his back, with his eyes closed. 

Mr. Chilton asked the Court to instruct the 
jury, if they believe the prisoner was not a 
citizen of Virginia, but of another State, they 
cannot convict on a count of treason. 

The Court declined, saying the Constitution 
did not give rights and immunities alone, but 
also imposed responsibilities. 

Of an Abolitionist. 91 

Mr. Chilton asked another instruction, to the 
effect that the jury must be satisfied that the 
place where the offence was committed was 
within the boundaries of Jefferson County, which 
the Court granted. 

A recess was taken up for half an hour, when 
the jury came in with a verdict. 

There was intense excitement. 

Brown sat up in bed while the verdict was 

The jury found him guilty of treason, advising 
and conspiring with slaves and others to rebel, 
and for murder in the first degree. 

Brown lay down quickly, and said nothing. 
There was no demonstration of any kind. 


Mr. Chilton moved an arrest of judgment,, 
both on account of errors in the indictment and 
errors in the verdict. The prisoner had been 
tried for an offence not appearing on the record 
of the Grand Jury ; the verdict was not on each 
count separately, but was a general verdict on 
the whole indictment. 

92 Recollections and Experiences 

On the following day Mr. Griswold stated the 
point on which an arrest of judgment was asked 
for in Brown's case. He said it had not been 
proved beyond a doubt that he (Brown) was 
even a citizen of the United States, and argued 
that treason could not be committed against a 
State, but only against the General Government, 
citing the authority of Judge Story ; also stating 
the jury had not found the prisoner guilty of the 
crimes as charged in the indictment they had 
not responded to the offences, but found him 
guilty of offences not charged. They find him 
guilty of murder in the first degree, when the 
indictment don't charge him with offences con- 
stituting that crime. 

Mr. Hunter replied, quoting the Virginia code 
to the effect that technicalities should not arrest 
the administration of justice. As to the juris- 
diction over treason, it was sufficient to say that 
Virginia had passed a law assuming that juris- 
diction, and defining what constituted that 

On the following day the Court gave its 
decision as ruling the objections made. In the 
objection that treason cannot be committed 
against a State, he ruled that wherever alle- 
giance is due, treason may be committed. Most 

Of an Abolitionist. 93 

of the States have passed laws against treason. 
The objections as to the form of the verdict 
rendered, the Court also regarded as insufficient. 

The clerk then asked Mr. Brown whether he 
had anything to say why sentence should not be 
passed upon him. 

Mr. Brown immediately rose, and, in a clear, 
distinct voice, said : " I have, may it please the 
Court, a few words to say. I deny every thing 
but what I have all along admitted, of a design 
on my part to free slaves. I intended, certainly, 
to have made a clean thing of that matter, as I 
did last winter, when I went into Missouri, and 
there took slaves without the snapping of a gun 
on either side, moving them through the country, 
and finally leaving them in Canada. I designed 
to have done the same thing again on a larger 
scale. That was all I intended. I never did 
intend murder or treason, or the destruction of 
property, or to excite or incite slaves to rebellion, 
or to make insurrection. I have another objec- 
tion, and that is, that it is unjust that I should 
suffer such a penalty. Had I interfered in the 
manner in which I admit, and which I admit 
had been fairly proved for I admire the truth- 
fulness and candor of the greater portion of the 
witnesses who have testified in this case had I 

94 Recollections and Experiences 

so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, 
the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf 
of any of their friends, either father, mother, 
brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that 
class, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in 
this interference, it would have been all right ; 
every man in this Court would have deemed it 
an act worthy of reward rather than punishment. 


" This Court acknowledges, too, as I suppose, 
the validity of the law of God. I see a book 
kissed, which I suppose to be the Bible, or at 
least the New Testament, which teaches me that 
all things whatsoever I would that men should 
do to me, I should do even so to them. It teaches 
me, further, to remember them that are in bonds 
as bound with them. I endeavoured to act up 
to that instruction. I say I am yet too young 
to understand that God is any respecter of per- 
sons. I believe that to have interfered as I have 
done, as I have always freely admitted I have 
done, in behalf of His despised poor, is no 
wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed neces- 
sary that I should forfeit my life for the further- 
ance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood 
further with the blood of my children and with 
the blood of millions in this slave country, whose 

Of an Abolitionist. 95 

rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and un- 
just enactments, I say let be done, Let me say 
one word further. I feel entirely satisfied with 
the treatment I have received on my trial. Con- 
sidering all the circumstances, it has been more 
generous than I expected ; but I feel no con- 
sciousness of guilt. I have stated from the first 
what was my intention, and what was not. I 
never had any design against the liberty of any 
person, nor any disposition to commit treason or 
incite slaves to rebel or make any general insur- 
rection. I never encouraged any man to do so, 
but always discouraged any idea of that kind. 
Let me say, also, in regard to the statements 
made by some of those who were connected with 
me. I fear it has been stated by some of them 
that I have induced them to join me, but the 
contrary is true. I do not say this to injure them, 
but regretting their weakness. Not one joined 
me but of his own accord, and the greater part 
at their own expense. A number of them I never 
saw, and never had a word of conversation with, 
till the day they came to me, and that was for 
the purpose I have stated. Now, I have done. 


Brown's speech was delivered in a calm, slow, 
unfaltering voice, with no attempt at effect. A 
correspondent of the Herald says : 

96 Recollections and Experiences t 

His composure, and his quiet and truthful 
manner while bearing testimony to the great 
indulgence that had been extended to him by 
the Court, throughout the whole of the proceed- 
ings, won the sympathy of every mind present. 
When he concluded, he quietly sat down. 

In a moment after, he was escorted back to 
the prison, for the first time followed by the 
sympathy of the people, who gazed upon him 
with pitying eyes. 

His counsel have put in a bill of exceptions, 
which will be referred to the Court of Appeals 
at Richmond. 


While Mr. Brown was speaking, perfect quiet 
prevailed; and when he had finished the judge 
proceeded to pronounce sentence upon him. 
After a few preliminary remarks, he said that no 
reasonable doubt could exist of the guilt of the 
prisoner; and sentenced him to be hung in public 
on Friday, the 2nd of December next. 

Mr. Brown received his sentence with com- 

The only demonstration made was the clap- 
ping of the hands of one man in the crowd, 

Of an Abolitionist. 97 

who is not a resident of Jefferson County. This 
was promptly suppressed, and much regret was 
expressed by the citizens at its occurrence. 


A lady, who visited Charlestown to assist Mrs. 
Lydia Maria Child, obtained two interviews with 
John Brown, the first of an hour, and the other 
for a shorter period. 

Mrs. , on entering, found Captain Brown 

lying on a cot, and Stephens on a large bed, 
Captain Brown arose from his bed to receive his 
guests, and stood a. few moments leaning against 
the bedstead, immediately lying down again from 
weakness. His visitors were struck with the 
cheerfulness of his expression, and the calmness 
of his manner. He seemed not only passively 
resigned to his fate, but cheerful under it, and 
more than willing to meet it. 

She said to him, " I expected Mrs. Child would 
be here to introduce me ; I am sorry not to find 
her, for her presence would make this room 
brighter for you." 

He smiled, and replied, " I have written to her 
the reasons why she should not come ; but she 
was very kind very kind !" 


98 Recollections and Experiences 

Some questions were then asked as to the 
treatment and care he had received ; to which he 
said, "I wish it to be understood by every body 
that I have been very kindly attended ; for if I 
had been under the care of father or brother, I 
could not have been better treated than by 
Captain Avis and his family." 


Mrs. had carried with her into the jail a 

large bunch of autumn leaves, gathered in the 
morning from the woods. There was no nail on 
the wall to hang them by, and she arranged them 
between the grated bars of the window. She 
gave to the sufferer a full-blown rose, which he 
laid beside his cheek on his pillow. The old man 
seemed to be greatly touched with these tokens 
of thoughtfulness. He is said to have always 
been a great lover of nature, particularly of the 
grandeur of forest scenes. 

Mrs. drew a chair near his bedside, and 

taking out her knitting, sat by him for an hour. 
She has preserved his complete conversation, of 
which I can give only a small portion. She says : 
"I never saw a person who seemed less troubled 
or excited, or whose mind was less disturbed 
and more clear. His remarks are pointed, pithy, 
and sensible. He is not in the least sentimental, 

Of an Abolitionist. 99 

and seems to have singularly excellent common 
sense about every thing." 


She asked him the direct question, "Were 
you actuated, in any degree, in undertaking your 
late enterprise, by a feeling of revenge ?" adding 
that a common impression to that effect had 
gone abroad. 

He manifested much surprise at this state- 
ment, and after pausing a moment, replied : 
" I am not conscious of ever having had a 
feeling of revenge ; no, not in all the wrong 
done to me and my family in Kansas. But I 
can see that a thing is wrong and wicked, and 
can help to right it, and can even hope that 
those who do the wrong may be punished, and 
still have no feeling of revenge. No, I have not 
been actuated by any spirit of revenge." 

He talked a good deal about his family, mani- 
festing solicitude for their comfort after he was 
gone, but expressing his great confidence and 
trust in God's kind providence in their behalf. 

When some allusion was made to the sentence 
which he had received, he said, very deliberately 
and firmly, and as my friend says, almost sub- 

IOO Recollections and Experiences 

limely : " I do not think I can better serve the 
cause I love so much than to die for it !" 

She says that she can never forget the impres- 
sive manner in which he utterred these solemn 
words. She replied : " It is not the hardest thing 
than can happen to a brave man to die ; but it 
must be a great hardship for an active man to 
lie on his back in prison, disabled by wounds. 
Do you not dread your confinement, and are you 
not afraid that it may wear you down, or cause 
you to relax your convictions, or regret your 
attempt, or make your courage fail ?" 

" I can not tell," he replied, " what weakness 
may come over me ; but I do not think that I 
shall deny my Lord and Master Jesus Christ, as 
I certainly should, if I denied my principles 
against slavery." 

When the conversation had proceeded thus 
far, as it was known outside the jail that a 
Northern lady was inside, a crowd began to 
collect, and although no demonstration of vio- 
lence was made, yet there were manifest indica- 
tions of impatience ; so that the sheriff called to 
the jailer, and the jailer was obliged to put an 
end to the interview. 

Of an Abolitionist. 101 


Mrs. Brown arrived at Charlestown, Dec. I, 
to see her husband. The interview between 
them lasted from four o'clock in the afternoon 
until near eight o'clock in the evening, when 
General Tallaferro informed them that the period 
allowed had elapsed, and that she must prepare 
for departure to the Ferry. Capt. Brown urged 
that his wife be allowed to remain with him all 
night. To this the General refused to assent, 
allowing them but four hours. 

The interview was not a very affecting one 
rather of a practical character, with regard to 
the future of herself and children, and the 
arrangement and settlement of business affairs. 
They seemed considerably affected when they 
first met, and Mrs. Brown was for a few moments 
quite overcome, but Brown was as firm as a rock, 
and she soon recovered her composure. There 
was an impression that the prisoner might pos- 
sibly be furnished with a weapon or with strych- 
nine by his wife, and before the interview her 
person was searched by the wife of the jailer, 
and a strict watch kept over them during the 
time they were together. 

On first meeting they kissed and affectionately 
embraced, and Mrs. Brown shed a few tears, but 

IO2 Recollections and Experiences 

immediately checked her feelings. They stood 
embraced, and she sobbing, for nearly five 
minutes, and he was apparently unable to speak. 
The prisoner only gave way for a moment, and 
was soon calm and collected, and remained firm 
throughout the interview. At the close they 
shook hands, but did not embrace, and as they 
parted he said, " God bless you and the children !" 
Mrs. Brown replied, " God have mercy on you !" 
and continued calm until she left the room, 
when she remained in tears a few moments, 
and then prepared to depart. The interview 
took place in the parlour of Captain Avis, and 
the prisoner was free from manacles of any 
kind. They sat side by side on a sofa, and 
after discussing family matters proceeded to 


At eleven o'clock on 2nd December, the pris- 
oner was brought out of the jail, accompanied by 
Sheriff Campbell and assistants, and Captain 
Avis, the jailer. As he came out, the six com- 
panies of infantry and one troop of horse, with 
General Tallaferro, and his entire staff, were 
deploying in front of the jail, while an open 
waggon with a pine box, in which was a fine 
oak coffin, was waiting for him. 

Of an Abolitionist. 103 

Brown looked around, and spoke to several 
persons he recognized, and, walking down the 
steps, took a seat on the coffin box along with 
the jailer, Avis. He looked with interest on the 
fine military display, but made no remarks. The 
waggon moved off, flanked by two files of rifle- 
men in close order. On reaching the field the 
military had already full possession. Pickets 
were established, and the citizens kept back, at 
the point of the bayonet, from taking any posi- 
tion but that assigned them. 

Brown was accompained by no ministers, he 
desiring no religious services either in the jail or 
on the scaffold. 


JOHN BROWN, of Osawatomie, 

Spake on his dying day : 
" I will not have, to shrive my soul, 

A priest in Slavery's pay ; 
But, let some poor slave-mother, 

Whom I have striven to free, 
With her children, from the gallows -stair, 

Put up a prayer for me !" 

John Brown, of Osawatomie, 

They led him out to die, 
When lo, a poor slave-mother, 

With her little child, pressed nigh. 
Then the bold, blue eye grew tender, 

And the old, harsh face grew mild, 
As he stooped between the jeering ranks 

And kissed the negro's child ! Whittier. 

IO4 Recollections and Experiences 

On reaching the field where the gallows was 
erected, the prisoner said, " Why, are none but 
military allowed in the inclosure ? I am sorry 
citizens have been kept out." On reaching the 
gallows, he observed Mr. Hunter and Mayor 
Green standing near, to whom he said, " Gentle- 
men, good-by !" his voice not faltering. 


The prisoner walked up the steps firmly, and 
was the first man on the gallows. Avis and 
Sheriff Campbell stood by his side, and after 
shaking hands and bidding an affectionate adieu, 
he thanked them for their kindness, when the 
cap was put over his face, and the rope around 
his neck. Avis asked him to step forward on 
the trap. He replied, " You must lead me, I can 
not see." The rope was adjusted, and the mili- 
tary order given, " Not ready yet." The soldiers 
marched, countermarched, and took position as 
if any enemy were in sight, and were thus occu- 
pied for nearly ten minutes, the prisoner standing 
all the time. Avis inquired if he was not tired. 
Brown said, " No, not tired ; but don't keep me 
waiting longer than is necessary. 

While on the scaffold Sheriff Campbell asked 
him if he would take a handkerchief in his hand 

Of an Abolitionist. 105 

to drop as a signal when he was ready. He re- 
plied, " No, I do not want it ; but do not detain 
me any longer than is absolutely necessary." 

He was swung off at fifteen minutes past eleven. 
A slight grasping of the hands and twitching of 
the muscles were seen, and then all was quiet. 

The body was several times examined, and the 
pulse did not cease until thirty-five minutes had 
passed. The body was then cut down, placed in 
a coffin, and conveyed under military escort to 
the depot, where it was put in a car to be carried 
to the ferry by a special train at four o'clock. 


One of the jail-guard, a worthy gentleman of 
this place, asked of Captain Brown his autograph, 
He expressed the kindest feeling for him, and 
said he would give it upon this consideration 
that he should not make a speculation out of it. 
The gentleman never alluded to the subject 
again, but on the morning of execution Brown 
sent for him, and handed him the following com- 
munication : 


December, 2nd, 1859. 

I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the 
crimes of this guilty land will never be purged 

io6 Recollections and Experiences 

away but with blood. I had, as I now think, 
vainly flattered myself that, without much blood- 
shed, it might be done. 


The following is part of an address which has 
been published : 

When we reflect on what Brown, the liberator, 
the champion of Christ, has striven to effect, and 
when we remember that he is about to die, 
slaughtered by the American Republic, the 
crime assumes the proportions of the nation 
which commits it ; and when we say to our- 
selves that this nation is a glory of the human 
race ; that like France, like England, like Ger- 
many she is one of the organs of civilization ; 
that she sometimes even outmarches Europe by 
the sublime audacity of her progress ; that she 
is the queen of an entire world ; and that she 
bears on her brow an immense light of freedom, 
we affirm that John Brown will not die, for we 
recoil, horror-struck, from the idea of so great a 
crime committed by so great a people. 

In a political light, the murder of Brown 
would be an irreparable fault. It would pene- 
trate the Union with a secret fissure, which 
would in the end tear it asunder. It is possible 
that the execution of Brown might consolidate 

Of an Abolitionist. 107 

slavery in Virginia, but it is certain that it would 
convulse the entire American democracy. You 
preserve your shame, but you sacrifice your glory. 

In a moral light, it seems to me that a portion 
of the light of humanity would be eclipsed that 
even the idea of justice and injustice would be 
obscured on the day which should witness the 
assassination of emancipation by liberty. 

As for myself, though I am but an atom, yet 
being, as I am, in common with all other men, 
inspired with the conscience of humanity, I 
kneel in tears before the great starry banner of 
the New World, and with clasped hands, and 
with profound and filial respect, I implore the 
illustrious American republic, sister of the French 
republic, to look to the safety of the universal 
moral law, to save Brown, to throw down the 
threatening scaffold of the i6th of December, 
and not to suffer, beneath its eyes, and I add, 
with a shudder, almost by its fault, the first 
fratricide be outdone. 

For yes, let America know it, and ponder it 
well there is something more terrible than 
Cain slaying Abel it is Washington slaying 


Hauteville House, Dec. 2, 1859. 

io8 Recollections and Experiences 


John Brown died on a scaffold for the slave ; 
Dark was the hour when we dug his hallowed grave ; 
Now God avenges the life he gladly gave, 
Freedom reigns to-day ! 

Glory, glory, hallelujah, 
Glory, glory, hallelujah, 
Glory, glory, hallelujah, 
Freedom reigns to-day ! 

John Brown sowed, and his harvesters are we ; 
Honour to him who has made the bondmen free ! 
Loved ever more shall our noble ruler be ; 
Freedom reigns to-day ! 

Glory, glory, hallelujah, 

Glory, &c. 

John Brown's body lies mouldering in the grave ; 
Bright, o'er the sod, let the starry banner wave ; 
Lo ! for the millions he perilled all to save, 
Freedom reigns to-day ! 
Glory, &c. 

John Brown's soul through the world is marching on ; 
Hail to the hour when oppression shall be gone ! 
All men will sing, in the better ages' dawn, 
Freedom reigns to-day. 
Glory, &c. 

John Brown dwells where the battle- strife is o'er ; 
Hate cannot harm him, nor sorrow stir him more ; 
Earth will remember the martyrdom he bore ; 
Freedom reigns to-day ! 
Glory, &c. 

Of an Abolitionist. 


John Brown's body lies mouldering in the grave ; 
John Brown lives in the triumphs of the brave ; 
John Brown's soul not a higher joy can crave ; 
Freedom reigns to-day ! 

Glory, glory, hallelujah ! 
Glory, glory, hallelujah ! 
Glory, glory, hallelujah ! 
Freedom reigns to-day ! 

Edna A. Proctor. 



FEW months after the death of John 
Brown, I felt impelled to go again into 
the land of darkness and slavery, and 
make another effort to help the oppressed to 
freedom. This time I decided to make Ken- 
tucky my field of labour. I consequently went 
to Louisville, where I remained for a few days 
looking about for a suitable locality for my 
work. I finally decided, to go down to Har- 
rodsburg, in the character of one in search of a 
farm. Securing a few letters from land agents 
in Louisville, introducing me as Mr. Hawkins, 
of Canada, I reached Harrodsburg in due time. 
After a little enquiry, I learned that a Mr. 

B , five miles from that place, had a very 

desirable farm for sale. Securing a conveyance, 

I was driven out to Mr. B 's, who received 

me in a friendly manner, when he learned 
that I was in search of a farm, and invited me 

Of an A bolitionist. 1 1 1 

to remain with him while I was in the neighbour- 
hood. I accepted his invitation, and sent the 

conveyance back to Harrodsburg. Mr. B 's 

family consisted of himself, wife, and three 
small children. He was the owner of the 
farm on which he lived, consisting of three 
hundred acres. He also owned eleven slave 
men and women, and several slave children. 
He informed me that he had concluded to sell 
his farm and stock, except the human chattels, 
and remove to Texas* During our frequent 
conversations upon the subject of land, stock, 
climate, soil, etc., I seized every opportunity, 
especially if any of the slaves were near, to 
allude to Canada in favourable terms. I did 
not fail to observe <he quiet but deep interest 
evinced by the slaves in our conversations. On 
the third day of my visit, oi^negotiations about 

the farm were approaching what Mr. B 

considered a favourable conclusion, when he 
casually informed me that his title-deeds were 
in Frankfort, and that, if I was in other respects 
pleased with the farm, he would go to Frank- 
fort and bring the deeds for my inspection. I 
expressed my satisfaction with the farm, and 
told him I thought he had better bring the 
deeds that I might look them over. On the 
following morning he left for Frankfort. Before 
leaving, I asked him to allow one of the slaves 

112 Recollections and Experiences 

to accompany me to the woods, while I amused 
myself gunning. He replied that I might take 
any of them I pleased. I selected a bright, 
intelligent looking mulatto, whom I had frequently 
noticed listening most attentively to my conver- 
sation with his master. When we reached the 
woods, he begged and implored me to buy him 
and take him to Canada. 


He told me that his master had sold his wife, 
to whom he had been married only a month, to 
a hotel-keeper in Covington, he spoke of his 
deep love for her ; that his master was going to 
take him to Texas, and that he should never see 
her again. The tears rolled down the poor fellow's 
cheeks in streams. I told him to cheer up ; 
that I would do my best to liberate him. I 
then confided to him the object that brought 
me there ; and told him that if liberty was 
precious to him he must prepare to make great 
efforts and sacrifices for it. I explained to him 
that if he could reach Cincinnati, Ohio, he would 
be safe from his pursuers, and that he would be 
sheltered and protected until he reached Canada. 
I then gave him the address of a friend in 
Cincinnati on whom he could rely for protec- 
tion, and also furnished him with some money, 
a pistol, and pocket-compass for the journey 

Of an Abolitionist. 113 

to the Ohio. When he took the pistol in his 
hand, I charged him not to use it except to pre- 
vent his capture. He grasped the pistol like a 
vice, and said, " Massa, I'll get to Cincinnati, if 
I am not killed." I then asked him if any of 
the other slaves were capable of undertaking the 
journey. For a moment he was silent, thinking, 
then he replied, " No, massa ; they are bad nig- 
gers ; don't you trust dem." I advised him to 
work on faithfully until Saturday night it was 
now Wednesday and to make every prepara- 
tion to leave at midnight on that day, and to 
travel by night only. I told him I should go 
direct to Covington on Friday, and would en- 
deavour to liberate his wife ; that, if I succeeded, 
he would find her at the house of the same friend 
in Cincinnati, whose address I had given him. 
I advised him to carry with him as much food 
as possible, so as to avoid exposure while on his 
journey. Poor Peter was nearly wild with his 
prospects; so much so, indeed, that I urged him 
to repress his feelings, for fear his conduct would 
be noticed by his mistress, who had imbibed a 
particular dislike to Peter since his separation 

from his wife. Mrs. B told me he was a 

wicked nigger ; that ever since Mr. B had 

sold the gal, Peter had looked gloomy and 

revengeful ; that she hated him. Mrs. B 

could not understand that Peter had any right, 

1 14 Recollections and Experiences 

not even the right to sorrow, when his wife was 
torn from him and sold to a stranger. 

On Thursday, Mr. B returned. He had 

been unsuccessful in obtaining the deeds, and 
told me that his lawyers in Louisville, were 
willing I should have every facility to examine 
them in their office, if I pleased ; but, as they 
held a small mortgage on the property, they 
were unwilling to permit the deeds to go out 
of their possession. This was very satisfactory, 
and afforded me an opportunity to get away 
without creating suspicion. During the night, 
previous to my departure, I obtained an inter- 
view with Peter, and reiterated my injunctions 
to be brave, cautious, and persevering, while on 
the journey, and again impressed upon his 
memory my instructions. Poor fellow ! his eyes 
filled with tears when I told him I was going 
direct to Covington next day, and should try and 
free his wife. When I bid him good-bye, he 
frantically kissed my hand, saying, "Tell Polly 
I'll be dere, sure. Tell her to wait for me." 

Oh ! what a vile, wicked institution was that 
which could make merchandise of such a man 
as stood before me ! Yet, monstrous and cruel 
as it was, it had its apologists and abettors 
in the North ; while from every pulpit in the 

Of an A bolitionist. 1 1 5 

Slave States went forth the declaration, that 
" slavery was a wise and beneficent institution, 
devised by God for the protection of an inferior 

On Friday morning I left, ostensibly for 
Louisville, but went to Covington, which place 
I reached on the following day. I had no diffi- 
culty in finding the hotel, having got the name 
of Polly's owner from Peter. It was a poorly 
kept hostelry ; the proprietor evidently had no 
knowledge of hotel-keeping. I however took 
quarters with him, and found him a very com- 
municative man. He informed me he had been 
a farmer until within a year past, but finding that 
farming on a small scale was unprofitable, he 
had sold out, and bought this hotel. He was 
the owner of two negroes, a man and woman ; 
"the gal was likely, but mighty spunky." He 
had paid twelve hundred dollars for her to Mr- 

B , near Harrodsburg. He wanted her to 

" take up " with his negro boy, but she refused. 
He had threatened to send her to New Orleans 
for sale, if she would not obey him. He 
reckoned she would be glad to " take up " with 
him before long ; a good whipping generally 
brought them to their senses. He knew how to 
manage such. The gal would bring sixteen 
hundred or two thousand dollars in New Orleans, 
because she was likely. 

n6 Recollections and Exp 


Before retiring that night, I requested the land- 
lord to send to my room some warm water for 
a bath. He said he would send the girl up 
with it as soon as it was ready. In less than half 
an hour, the water was placed in my room by a 
bright, intelligent, straight-haired mulatto girl, 
apparently twenty years of age. As soon as she 
entered the room, I directed her to close the 
door, and said in a whisper, "Are you Polly, 
from Harrodsburg ?" She looked at me with a 
frightened look, "Yes, massa, I is," she said. I 
told her I had seen her husband, Peter, and that 
he was going to run away from his master on 
Sunday night ; that I had friends in Cincinnati 
where he was going, who would secrete him until 
she could join him, when they would both be 
sent to Canada. She stood like a statue, while 
I was talking. I directed her to get ready to 
meet me on the following night, at twelve o'clock, 
in front of the post office ; that I should leave 
the hotel in the morning and make preparations 
to have her taken across the river to the Ohio 
shore. She was so much amazed that for a mo- 
ment she was unable to speak ; at last she said, 
"Please, massa, tell me it over again." I re- 
peated my instructions as rapidly as possible for 
fear I should be interrupted ; and warned her 
against betraying herself by any outward expres- 
sion of her feelings. When I concluded, she 

Of an A bolitionist. 1 1 7 

said, " Oh, massa, I'll pray to God for you I'll 
be dere sure." She then left the room. Next 
morning I delayed coming down to breakfast 
until after the regular breakfast was over, hoping 
to obtain another opportunity of charging her 
memory with the instructions already given. 
I was fortunate she served the table. When 
I was leaving the table, I said to her, " To-night, 
at twelve o clock, szire" She replied in a whisper* 
" God will help me, massa, I'll try to." After 
breakfast, I went to Cincinnati and with the 
aid of friends, made arrangements to cross to 
Covington at eleven o'clock that night. 


Before dark on Sunday evening, I had com- 
pleted all my arrangements. A short time be- 
fore midnight, I crossed the river in a small boat 
with two good assistants. Leaving them in 
charge of the boat, I went up to the post office, 
which I reached a few minutes before twelve. 
I waited patiently for nearly half an hour, when 
I observed a dark object approaching rapidly at 
a distance of several hundred yards from where 
I stood. As soon as I recognized the form, I 
went toward her, and, telling her to follow me, 
I turned down a dark street, and went toward 
the river. We had made but little progress 

Ii8 Recollections and Experiences 

before we were stopped by a night watchman, 
who said, " Where are you going ?" I replied 
by putting a dollar in his hand and saying, 
it's all right. He became oblivious, and passed 
on his beat, greatly to my peace of mind. We 
soon reached the boat ; she crouched down in 
the bow, and we left the Kentucky shore. 


In a short time we were safe across the river, 
and placing my charge in a cab which I had ready 
at the shore, we drove rapidly up into the city 
within a few blocks of my friend's residence. I 
then dismissed the cab, and we wended our way 
through several streets, until I reached the rear 
entrance to the house of my friend. We were 
admitted, and received the kind attention of our 
generous and liberty-loving host. Poor Polly, 
who had never before been treated with such 
kindness, said to me : "Massa, is I free now ?" I 
told her she was now free from her master ; and 
that, as soon as her husband arrived, they both 
would be sent to Cleveland, where I would meet 
them, and help them across to Canada, where 
they would be as free as the whites. Bidding 
her and my noble hearted friend good-by, I 
took the first train on Monday morning for 
Cleveland. On my arrival there, I drove a few 

Of an Abolitionist. 119 

miles into the country to the house of a friend 
of the cause, where I remained waiting for news 
of Peter's arrival in Cincinnati. On Friday 
morning I received a letter informing me that 
Peter had arrived safely, though his feet were 
torn and sore. The meeting between husband 
and wife was described as most affecting. On 
Monday evening following, I received another 
letter stating that freight car No. 705, had been 
hired to convey a box containing one " package of 
hardware," and one of " dry goods," to Cleveland. 
The letter also contained the key of the car. 
The train containing this particular car was to 
leave Cincinnati on Tuesday morning, and would 
reach Cleveland, sometime during the evening of 
the same day. I had but a short time conse- 
quently to make preparations to convey the 
fugitives across the lake. 


On Tuesday morning, my good friend with 
whom I had been stopping, drove me into Cleve- 
land. As we passed the American House, I 
caught sight of my Kentucky host standing in 
front of the hotel. He did not observe me, 
however, and we continued on our way to the 
lake shore. I then sent my friend back to make 
the acquaintance of the Kentuckian, and learn 

1 20 Recollections and Experiences 

the object of his visit to Cleveland. After a 
long search, I found a schooner loading for Port 
Stanley, Canada. The skipper said they would 
be ready to sail on the following day if the 
wind was favourable. I soon learned that the 
captain was a Freemason, and confided to him 
my secret. The result was, his agreement to 
stow my freight away safely as soon as they 
came on board, and carry them to Canada I 
then returned to a locality agreed upon with 
my friend, whom I found waiting for me, and was 
then driven to the country. On the way out, 
my friend informed me that he had made the 
acquaintance of the Kentuckian, who felt very 
sore over the loss of his slave ; but he did not 
express any suspicion of me. He said he was 
having posters printed, offering a reward of five 
hundred dollars for the capture of the girl. 
Toward night, I again went into the city, and 
my friend made enquiry at the freight office of 
the railroad, and ascertained that the train 
containing car 705, would be in at 10 p.m. We 
then went to a hotel near the depot, and 
remained until the train came. I found the 
car, and my faithful friend brought his carriage 
as near as he could safely, without attracting 
attention. I unlocked the door of the car, went 
in, and closed the door after me. Listening 
carefully, I could not detect the slightest signs 

Of an Abolitionist. 121 

of life in the car. I called in a low voice : 
" Peter." A reply came at once : " Yes, massa, 
shall I open the box ?" The two poor creatures 
were in a dry-goods box, sufficiently large 
to permit them to sit upright. I helped them 
out of the box, and making sure that no 
stranger was near, opened the door of the 
car, and led them quickly to the carriage. 
We then drove rapidly away to the boat, and 
secreted the fugitives in the cabin. I then bid my 
friend farewell, as I had decided not to leave the 
two faithful creatures until they were safe in 


After midnight the breeze freshened up, and 
we made sail for the land of freedom. We had 
a rough and tedious voyage, and did not reach 
Canada until near night on the following day. 
When our little vessel was safely moored along- 
side the pier, I led my two companions on shore, 
and told them they were now in a land where 
freedom was guaranteed to all. And we kneeled 
together on the soil of Canada, and thanked 
the Almighty Father for his aid and protec- 
tion. Two happier beings I never saw. Next 
day I took them to London, and obtained situa- 
tions for both Peter and his wife. I succeeded 

122 Recollections and Experiences 

also in enlisting the kind interest of several prom- 
inent persons in their behalf, to whom I related 
their experience. 


The next three months I spent in Canada, 
visiting those refugees in whom I had taken a 
personal interest. I found six in Chatham, twa 
in London, four in Hamilton, two in Amherstburg, 
and one in Toronto fifteen in all ; while several 
others had gone from Canada to New England. 

It afforded me great satisfaction to find them 
sober, industrious members of society. It has. 
often been remarked by both Canadians and 
visitors from the States, that the negro refugees 
in Canada were superior specimens of their race. 
The observation is true, for none but superior 
specimens could hope to reach Canada. The 
difficulties and dangers of the route, and the 
fact that they were often closely followed for 
weeks, not only by human foes, but by blood- 
hounds as well, required the exercise of rare 
qualities of mind and body. Their route would 
often lay through dismal swamps inhabited only 
by wild animals and poisonous reptiles. Some- 
times the distance between the land of bondage 
and freedom was several hundreds of miles, every 

Of an Abolitionist. 123 

mile of which had to be traversed on foot. It 
is, indeed, surprising that so large a number of 
fugitives succeeded in reaching Canada, con- 
sidering the obstacles they had to contend with 
on their long and dangerous journey. 

When I reflect upon the dangers that sur- 
rounded me during that stormy period, I ac- 
knowledge my indebtedness to. God for His 
protection and support during my labours in 
behalf of the oppressed people of the Southern 
States ; and, although the results of my efforts 
were insignificant in comparison to what I hoped 
to accomplish when I began the work in 1855, 
I still rejoice that I was enabled to do what 
little I did for the poor and despised coloured 
people of the Slave States. 


The number of refugee negroes living in 
Canada, at the outbreak of the slaveholder's 
rebellion, was not far short of forty thousand. 
Probably more than half of them were manu- 
mitted slaves who, in consequence of unjust 
laws, were compelled to leave the States where 
they were manumitted. Many of these negroes 
settled in the Northern States, but the greater 
portion of them came to Canada. 


1 24 Recollections and Experiences 


When the Fugitive Slave Law was enacted in 
1850, it carried terror to every person of African 
blood, in the Free States. Stung with hopeless 
despair, more than six thousand Christian men 
and women fled from their homes, and sought 
refuge under the flag of Britain in Canada. In 
the words of Charles Sumner : " The Free States 
became little better than a huge outlying planta- 
tion, quivering under the lash of the overseer ; 
or rather they were a diversified hunting ground 
for the flying bondman, resounding always with 
the ' halloo' of the huntsman. There seemed to 
be no rest. The chase was hardly finished at 
Boston, before it broke out at Philadelphia, Syra- 
cuse, or Buffalo, and then again raged furiously 
over the prairies of the west. Not a case occur- 
red which did not shock the conscience of the 
country, and sting it with anger. The records 
of the time attest the accuracy of this statement. 
Perhaps there is no instance in history where 
human passion showed itself in grander forms of 
expression, or where eloquence lent all her gifts 
more completely to the demands of liberty, than 
the speech of Theodore Parker, (now dead and 
buried in a foreign land), denouncing the capture 
of Thomas Simms at Boston, and invoking the 
judgment of God and man upon the agents in 

Of an Abolitionist. 125 

this wickedness. The great effort cannot be for- 
gotten in the history of humanity. But every 
case pleaded with an eloquence of its own, until 
at last one of those tragedies occurred which 
darken the heavens, and cry out with a voice that 
will be heard. It was the voice of a mother 
standing over her murdered child. Margaret 
Garner had escaped from slavery with three 
children, but she was overtaken at Cincinnati. 
Unwilling to see her offspring returned to the 
shambles of the South, this unhappy person, 
described in the testimony as 'a womanly, 
amiable, affectionate mother,' determined to 
save them in the only way within her power. 
With a butcher knife, coolly and deliberately, 
she took the life of one of the children, described 
as ' almost white, and a little girl of rare beauty,' 
and attempted, without success, to take the life 
of the other two. To the preacher who interro- 
gated her, she exclaimed : ' The child is my 
own, given me of God to do the best a mother 
could in its behalf. I have done the best I 
could ; I would have done more and better for 
the rest ; I knew it was better for them to go 
home to God than back to slavery.' But she 
was restrained in her purpose. The Fugitive 
Slave Act triumphed, and after the determina- 
tion of sundry questions of jurisdiction, this 
devoted historic mother, with the two children 

126 Recollections and Experiences 

that remained to her, and the dead body of the 
little one just emancipated, was escorted by a 
national guard of armed men to the doom of 
slavery. But her case did not end with this 
revolting sacrifice. So long as the human heart 
is moved by human suffering, the story of this 
mother will be read with alternate anger and 
grief, while it is studied as a perpetual witness 
to the slaveholding tyranny which then ruled the 
Republic with execrable exactions, destined at 
last to break out in war, as the sacrifice of 
Virginia by her father is a perpetual witness to 
the decemviral tyranny which ruled Rome. But 
liberty is always priceless. There are other 
instances less known in which kindred wrong 
has been done. Every case was a tragedy 
under the forms of law. Worse than poisoned 
bowl or dagger was the certificate of a United 
States commissioner who was allowed, without 
interruption, to continue his dreadful trade." 


During no previous presidential election, (ex- 
cept that of 1856, when Fremont and Buchanan 
were the candidates), was there so much excite- 
ment on the slavery question as that of 1860, 
when Lincoln, Breckinridge, Bell, and Douglas 
were the candidates. 

Of an Abolitionist. 127 

To enable my readers to form a correct idea 
as to the political positions occupied by the 
different candidates towards the institution of 
slavery, I give below the " slavery plank of each 
platform " on which the presidential candidates 
went before the people for their suffrages : 


Resolved, That we, the delegated representatives of the 
Republican electors of the United States, in Convention 
assembled, in discharge of the duty we owe to our constituents 
and our country, unite in the following declarations : 

1. That the history of the nation, during the last four years, 
has fully established the propriety and necessity of the organ- 
ization and perpetuation of the Republican party, and that 
the causes which called it into existence are permanent in 
their nature, and now, more than ever before, demand its 
peaceful and constitutional triumph. 

2. That the maintenance of the principles promulgated in 
the Declaration of Independence and embodied in the Federal 
Constitution, "That all men are created equal; that they are 
endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights ; that 
among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ; 
that to secure these rights, goverments are instituted among 
men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the 
governed," is essential to the preservation of our Republican 
institutions ; and that the Federal Constitution, the Rights of 
the States, and the Union of the States, must and shall be 

7. That the new dogma, that the Constitution, of its own 
force, carries Slavery into any or all of the Territories of the 
United States, is a dangerous political heresy, at variance 
with the explicit provisions of that instrument itself, with 
contemporaneous exposition, and with legislative and judicial 
precedent ; is revolutionary in its tendency, and subversive of 
the peace and harmony of the country. 

128 Recollections and Experiences 

8. That the normal condition of all the territory of the 
United States is that of freedom ; That as our Republican 
fathers, when they had abolished Slavery in all our national 
territory, ordained that ' ' no person should be deprived of 
life, liberty, or property, without due process of law," it 
becomes our duty, by legislation, whenever such legislation is 
necessary, to maintion this provision of the Constitution 
against all attempts to violate it ; and we deny the authority 
of Congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, 
to give legal existence to Slavery in any Territory of the 
United States. 

9. That we brand the recent re-opening of the African 
slave-trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided by 
perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity 
and a burning shame to our country and age ; and we call 
upon Congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the 
total and final suppression of that execrable traffic. 


1. Resolved, That we, the Democracy of the Union, in Con- 
vention assembled, hereby declare our affirmance of the follow- 
ing resolutions : 

Resolved, That the enactments of State Legislatures to- 
defeat the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, are 
hostile in character, subversive of the Constitution, and revo- 
lutionary in their effect. 

Resolved, That it is in accordance with the true interpreta- 
tion of the Cincinnati Platform, that, during the existence of 
the Territorial Governments, the measure of restriction, what- 
ever it may be, imposed by the Federal Constitution on the 
power of the Territorial Legislature over the subject of the 
domestic relations, as the same has been, or shall hereafter be, 
finally determined by the Supreme Court of the United 
States, shall be respected by all good citizens, and enforced 
with promptness and fidelity by every branch of the General 

Of an Abolitionist. 129 



Resolved, That the Platform adopted by the Democratic 
party at Cincinnati be affirmed, with the following explanatory 
Resolutions : 

1. That the Government of a Territory organized by an Act 
of Congress, is provisional and temporary ; and during its 
existence, all citizens of the United States have an equal right 
to settle with their property in the Territory, without their 
rights, either of person or property, being destroyed or 
impaired by Congressional or Territorial legislation. 

2. That it is the duty of the Federal Government, in all its 
departments, to protect, when necessary, the rights of persons 
and property in the Territories, and wherever else its consti- 
tutional authority extends. 

3. That when the settlers in a Territory having an adequate 
population, form a State Constitution, in pursuance of law, 
the right of sovereignity commences, and, being consummated 
by admission into the Union, they stand on an equal footing 
with the people of other States ; and the State thus organized 
ought to be admitted into the Federal Union, whether its 
Constitution prohibits or recognizes the institution of Slavery. 

5. That the enactments of State Legislatures to defeat the 
faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law are hostile in 
character, subversive of the Constitution, and revolutionary 
in their effect. 



Whereas, Experience has demonstrated that Platforms 
adopted by the partisan conventions of the country have had 
the effect to mislead and deceive the people, and at the same 
time to widen the political divisions of the country, by the 
creation and encouragement of geographical and sectional 
parties ; therefore, 

1 30 Recollections and Experiences 

Resolved, That it is both the part of patriotism and of duty 
to recognize no political principle other than THE CONSTITUTION 
FORCEMENT OF THE LAWS, and that as representatives of the 
Constitutional Union men of the country in National Conven- 
tion assembled, we hereby pledge ourselves to obtain, protect, 
and defend, separately and unitedly, these great principles of 
public liberty and national safety, against all enemies at home 
and abroad, believing that thereby peace may once more be 
restored to the country, the rights of the People and of the 
States re-established, and the Government again placed in 
that condition, of justice, fraternity, and equality, which 
under the example and Constitution of our fathers, has 
solemnly bound every citizen of the United States to maintain 
a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic trail - 
quility, provide for the common defence, promote the general 
welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and 
our posterity. 


For Lincoln and Hamlin ISO 

For Breckinridge and Lane . , 72 

For BeU and Everett 39 

For Douglas and Johnson 12 

Whole Electoral Vote 303 

Lincoln's majority over all 57 

When enough returns from the election had been received 
to render it certain that Abraham Lincoln would be the next 
President, public meetings were held in the city of Charleston 
and in other places in the State of South Carolina, at which 
resolutions were adopted in favor of the Secession of the State 
from the Union. 



The State of South Carolina, having determined to resume 
her separate and equal place among nations, deems it due to 

Of an Abolitionist. 131 

herself, to the remaining United States of America, and to 
the nations of the world, that she should declare the causes 
which have led to this act. 

We affirm that these ends for which this government was 
instituted have been defeated, and the government itself has 
been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slave- 
holding States. These States have assumed the right of 
deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions, and 
have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the 
States and recognized by the Constitution ; they have de- 
nounced as sinful the institution of slavery ; they have 
permitted the open establishment among them of societies 
whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloin the 
property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged 
and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes, and 
those who remain have been incited by emissaries to servile 

Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, 
and all hope of remedy is rendered vain by the fact that 
public opinion at the north has invested a great political error 
with the sanctions of a more erroneous religious belief. 

We, therefore, the people of South Carolina, appealing to 
the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our 
intentions, have solemnly declared that the union heretofore 
existing between this State and the other States of North 
America is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has 
resumed her position among the nations of the world as a free, 
sovereign, and independent State. 

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance 
on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge 
to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. 

On the same day the remaining representa- 
tives in Congress from South Carolina vacated 
their seats and returned home ; and thus began 
the slaveholders' rebellion. 



[OR many months after the death of John 
Brown, I felt that the defeat of his plans 
at Harper's Ferry was a great calamity to 
the enslaved. I saw nothing in store for them but 
toil and bondage for another generation. For who, 
at that time, foresaw the mighty conflict that was 
soon to be inaugurated by the haughty slave- 
holders, in which they and their cherished insti- 
tution were to be completely overthrown. 

The seed sown at Harper's Ferry, had fallen 
into rich soil. The slaveholders were convinced 
that unless they could obtain from the North 
further guarantees for the protection of the insti- 
tution of slavery that secession from the Free 
States was their only salvation. Their insolent 
demands upon the North were met by a quiet 

Of an Abolitionist. 133 

determination upon the part of the people ; that 
not another foot of the public domain should be 
given up to slavery. Northern politicians had 
become so accustomed to yielding obedience to 
the commands of the slave drivers, that strong 
efforts were made to effect a compromise with 
the pro-slavery leaders in Congress. 

But the patience of the peace-loving people of 
the Free States, was at length exhausted ; they 
had submitted to the outrageous provisions of 
the Fugitive Slave Law ; they had looked on and 
seen the champions of freedom in Congress in- 
sulted and assaulted by the slave drivers of the 
South ; they had borne for years the taunts and 
sneers of the Southern chivalry ; and now, they 
resolved to assert their just rights and privileges 
as citizens of a free country. 

The threats and demands of the slaveholders 
were treated with the contempt they deserved. 


A few months after the inauguration of Presi- 
dent Lincoln, I received a letter from a friend in 
Washington, requesting me to visit him at my 
very earliest convenience ; that he desired to 
confer with me on a subject of importance. 

134 Recollections and Experiences 

The day after my arrival in Washington, my 
friend introduced me to the President. Mr. 
Lincoln received me very cordially, and invited 
me to dine with him that day. Assembled at 
the President's table were several prominent 
gentlemen, to whom Mr. Lincoln introduced me 
as " a red-hot abolitionist from Canada." 

One of the guests, a prominent member of 
Congress (severely injured in after years by 
coming in contact with the Credit Mobilier\ 
remarked, in a slurring manner, that he wished 
all the negroes of the United States would 
emigrate to Canada, as we Canadians were so 
fond of them. Mr. Lincoln said : " It would be 
all the better for the negroes, that's certain." 

"Yes," I replied, a little warmly, "it would 
be all the better for the negroes ; for, under our 
flag, the blackest negro is entitled to, and freely 
accorded every right and privilege enjoyed by 
native Canadians. We make no distinction in 
respect to the colour of a man's skin. It is true, 
we live under a monarchial form of govern- 
ment ; but, under that government, every man, 
and woman, whether white, black, or brown, 
have equal rights before our laws." 

Mr. Lincoln, in a jocular way, said to the 
member of Congress, " If you are not careful, 

Of an Abolitionist. 135 

you will bring on a war with Canada. I think 
we have got a big enough job on hand now." 

The conversation then turned on the attitude 
of England toward the Free States in their 
contest with the slaveholders. One gentleman 
remarked that he was surprised to see so many 
manifestations of unfriendliness on the part of 
the English and Canadian people, and asked me 
how I accounted for it. I replied, "How can you 
expect it otherwise, when there exists in the 
Northern States so wide a diversity of opinion as 
to the justness of your cause ? The unfriendly 
expressions of an English statesman, or the 
avowed sympathy of a few English and Canadian 
papers, are noted by you with painful surprise ; 
while the treasonable utterances and acts of 
some of your own political leaders and people 
are quite overlooked. Besides, you cannot ex- 
pect the sympathy of the Christian world in your 
behalf, while you display such an utter disregard 
for the rights and liberties of your own citizens, 
as I witnessed in this city yesterday." 

Mr. Lincoln asked what I alluded to. I re- 
plied, " A United States Marshall passed through 
Washington yesterday, having in his charge a 
coloured man, who he was taking over to Vir- 
ginia under the provisions of your Fugitive Slave 

136 Recollections and Experiences 

Law. The man had escaped from his master 
who is an open rebel and fled to Wilmington, 
Delaware, where he was arrested, and taken 
back into slavery." 

After dinner, Mr. Lincoln led me to a window, 
distant from the rest of the party, and said, 
" Mr. S. sent for you at my request. We need 
a confidential person in Canada to look after 
the rebel emissaries there, and keep us posted 
as to their schemes and objects. You have 
been strongly recommended to me for the posi- 
tion. Your mission shall be as confidential as 
you please. No one here but your friend Mr. S. 
and myself, shall have any knowledge of your 
position. Your communications may be sent 

direct to me, under cover to Major . Think 

it over to-night ; and if you can accept the mis- 
sion, come up and see me at nine o'clock to-mor- 
row morning." When I took my leave of him, he 
said, " I hope you will decide to serve us." 

The position thus offered, was one not suited 
to my tastes or feelings, but, as Mr. Lincoln 
appeared very desirous that I should accept it, 
I concluded to lay aside my prejudices and 
accept the responsibilities of the mission. I 
was also persuaded to this conclusion by the 
wishes of my friend. 

Of an Abolitionist. 137 

At nine o'clock next morning, I waited upon 
the President, and announced my decision. He 
grasped my hand in a hearty manner, and said : 
" Thank you ; thank you ; I am glad of it." 

I said : " Mr. Lincoln, if even one of the 
objects of your Government was the liberation 
from bondage of the poor slaves of the South, 
I would feel justified in accepting any position 
where I could best serve you, but when I see 
so much tenderness for that vile institution and 
for the interests of slaveholders, I almost - doubt 
whether your efforts to crush the rebellion will 
meet with the favour of heaven." 

He replied : " I sincerely wish that all men 
were free, and I especially wish for the complete 
abolition of slavery in this country ; but my 
private wishes and feelings must yield to the 
necessities of my position. My first duty is, to 
maintain the integrity of the Union. With 
that object in view, I shall endeavour to save it, 
either with or without slavery. I have always 
been an anti-slavery man. Away back in 1839, 
when I was a member of the Legislature of 
Illinois, I presented a resolution asking for 
the emancipation of slavery in the District of 
Columbia, when, with but few exceptions, the 
popular mind of my State was opposed to it. 

138 Recollections and Experiences 

If the destruction of the institution of slavery 
should be one of the results of this conflict 
which the slaveholders have forced upon us, 
I shall rejoice as hearty as you. In the mean- 
time, help us to circumvent the machinations 
of the rebel agents in Canada. There is no 
doubt they will use your country as a communi- 
cating link with Europe, and also with their 
friends in New York. It is quite possible also 
that they may make Canada a base, to annoy 
our people along the frontier. Keep us well 
posted of what they say and do." 

After a lengthy conversation relative to pri- 
vate matters connected with my mission, I rose 
to leave, when he said : " I will walk down to 
' Willards' with you, the hotel is on my way to the 
Capitol, where I have an engagement at noon." 

Before we reached the hotel, a man came 
up to the President, and thrust a letter into 
his hand, at the same time applying for some 
office in Wisconsin. I saw that the President 
was offended at the rudeness, for he passed the 
letter back without looking at it, saying : " No, 
sir ! I am not going to open shop here." This 
was said in a most emphatic manner, but accom- 
panied by a comical gesture which caused the 
rejected applicant to smile. As we continued 

Of an Abolitionist. 139 

our walk, the President remarked on the annoy- 
ances incident to his position, saying : " These 
office-seekers are a curse to this country. No 
sooner was my election certain, than I became 
the prey of hundreds of hungry, persistent 
applicants for office, whose highest ambition is 
to feed at the government crib." 

When he bid me good-bye, he said : " Let 
me hear from you once a week at least." 

As he was about to leave me, a young army 
officer stopped him, and made some request, 
to which the President replied with a good 
deal of humour : " No ; I can't do that. I 
must not interfere : they would scratch my 
eyes out, if I did. You must go to the proper 

I could not help watching the receding form 
of the President, as with long, indifferent strides 
he wended his way towards the Capitol. What 
a dreadful responsibility rested on that man ! 
The hopes of millions of Republicans throughout 
the world were fixed upon him ; while twenty 
millions of his own people looked to him for the 
salvation of the Republic, and four millions of 
poor down-trodden slaves in the South looked 
to him for freedom. 

140 Recollections and Experiences 

Mr. Lincoln was no ordinary man. He had a 
quick and ready perception of facts, a retentive 
memory, and a logical turn of mind, which 
patiently and unwaveringly followed every link 
in the chain of thought on every subject which 
he investigated. He was honest, temperate, and 
forgiving. He was a good man a man of 
noble and kindly heart. I never heard him 
speak unkindly of any man ; even the rebels 
received no word of anger from him. 


Immediately upon my arrival in Montreal, I 
sought opportunities to familiarize myself with 
the names, habits, and occupations of the various 
Confederates in Canada. I had but little diffi- 
culty in accomplishing this purpose, as the Con- 
federates looked upon all Canadians as their 

The principal Confederate agent in Canada at 
that time, was an ex-Member of Buchanan's 
administration. The contemptible conduct of 
this man (while still a member of the Govern- 
ment), in warning the rebels of Charleston of 
the sailing of the Steamer " Star of the West," 
with provisions for the beseiged garrison at Fort 
Sumpter, will furnish a good index to his char- 

Of an Abolitionist. 141 

The plots and schemes devised by him and 
his subordinates to furnish the rebels with 
clothing, boots and shoes, &c., via Nassau and 
Cuba, and to keep open a channel of commu- 
nication with the Confederate States, kept me 
continually on the qui vive to frustrate their 


Toward the close of 1862, I received satisfac- 
tory information that a regular system of postal 
service was in operation between the Confederate 
States and Europe, via Canada. Diligently and 
earnestly I sought for a clue, week after week 
passed away, but nothing was discovered. I 
placed detectives on all the trains leaving Mon- 
treal, with instructions to closely watch every 
stranger, and especially those of southern aspect. 
All my efforts, however, were unsuccessful. 

I finally concluded to go to Detroit, and insti- 
tute some enquiries in that section. With that 
object in view, I sent for a cabman (one that I 
usually.employed), to convey me to the depot for 
the 9 p. m. night train west ; he came to inform 
me that it would be impossible for him to drive 
me that night, as he was obliged to take a lady 
from Lapraire to Champlain, a small village in 
the State of New York, not far from the boun- 

142 Recollections and Experiences 

dary line between Canada and the United States. 
He said he had a brother living at Laprarie, who 
was regularly employed to carry a lady once a 
fortnight from Laprarie to Champlain ; but that 
he was ill, and had sent for him to take his place. 
Some further questions from me elicited the fact 
that my cabman had on one former occasion 
filled his brother's place to carry the same lady 
over the same route. 

My suspicions were now aroused, I felt confi- 
dent that this lady had something to do with the 
Confederate postal service, and I closely ques- 
tioned him as to her appearance and habits, and 
ostensible business, and why she travelled in 
such an unusual manner and by such a round- 
about route. I put these questions in such a 
way as not to excite suspicion in his mind as to 
my object. The information I obtained from 
him was of such importance that I decided to 
reach Champlain in advance of the cabman and 
his strange passenger. I consequently took the 
evening train to Rouse's Point, and from thence 
was driven in a carriage to Champlain. 

I engaged quarters at the principal hotel in 
the village, and in a short time won the 
confidence of the talkative and consequential 
little landlord, who finally, on my referring to 

Of an Abolitionist. 143 

the lady in question, informed me that she was 
a Mrs. "Williams," (an alias, no doubt,) an agent 
for a religious tract society ; that she passed 
over this route from Canada about once a fort- 
night ; and that she was a very excellent person 
indeed. He, however, knew nothing about her, 
except that she said she was a tract distributer, 
travelling between Upper Canada and Boston. 
He finally remarked, " I expect her here either 
to-night or to-morrow night, on her way to 
Boston. She always arrives here in the night : 
sometimes it's early morning." 

Securing a front bed-room, I was in a position 
to observe whoever came down the road leading 
from Canada, as the hotel fronted the road. 
Patiently I waited at the window from 10 p.m. 
to 3 a.m., looking out into the darkness. Shortly 
after three o'clock, I heard the rumbling of an 
approaching carriage coming down the road, 
and in a short time a cab drove up, and I 
saw my Montreal cabman alight and open the 
door of the carriage, from which a lady, closely 
muffled, stepped and entered the house. She 
was placed in a room on the opposite side of 
the hall to the one I occupied. To prevent 
her leaving the house without my knowledge, I 
determined to remain awake the rest of the 
night. At six o'clock I saw my cabman drive 
away towards Canada. 

144 Recollections and Experiences 

At the breakfast table, I sat vis-a-vis with the 
object of my search. She was a keen, intelligent, 
witty, and handsome woman of medium size, 
with black eyes and hair, about 45 years of age. 
She conversed quite freely with the landlord's 
wife, but at times she would check herself, 
betraying a startled half-frightened look. Her 
conversation was principally upon her experi- 
ences as an agent of a "Religious Tract Society." 
At length an opportunity offered for me to engage 
in conversation with her. When I informed her 
that I was Canadian, she became less reserved 
in her manner, and chatted familiarly on her 
trips through Canada! I soon learned that it 
was her intention to go to Rouse's Point by the 
noon train, 

As soon as breakfast was over, I telegraphed 
to a detective at Rouse's Point to meet me, on 
the arrival of the train, prepared to make an 
arrest. When Mrs. Williams was seated in the 
car, I took a seat near her, to prevent her from 
escaping. Before the train reached the Point, 
it slackened up, and a detective officer came 
into the cars. I pointed out Mrs. Williams to 
him, and ordered him to take her to his house 
as soon as she stepped from the car, to watch 
every movement she made, and not permit her 
to have any communication with confederates. 

Of an Abolitionist. 14$ 


As soon as the train entered the depot at 
Rouse's Point, the detective arrested her, and, 
with the aid of an assistant, took her to his 
house, where I immediately followed. I directed 
the wife of the detective to rigidly search her, 
and, if any documents were found, to call her 
husband and give them to him. Notwithstanding 
her protests, tears, and prayers, Mrs. Williams 
was thoroughly searched, and with good results, 
for eighty-two letters were found sewed into her 
under garments. The majority of them were 
addressed to rebel emissaries in Europe, the 
balance, to private individuals in the Northern 
States. After copying the address, and placing 
a number on each letter, I secured them safely 
on my person, and telegraphed to the President 
the substance of the above facts. In less than 
an hour I received instructions to hasten to 
Washington with the confiscated letters. 

Before leaving Rouse's Point I had an inter- 
view with Mrs. Williams, during which I offered 
to secure her release, providing she would 
disclose certain information, that I knew she 
possessed, relative to the rebel mail route from 
the Confederacy to Europe via Canada. She, 
however, positively refused, and declared that 

146 Recollections and Experiences 

she would die in prison before she would 
disclose the secret. 

Having instructed the officer to keep Mrs. 
Williams under close arrest until he received 
further orders from me, I left for Washington. 
On my arrival there (about midnight), I went 
direct to the Executive mansion, and sent my 
card to the President, who had retired to bed. 
In two or three minutes the porter returned, and 
requested me to accompany him to the Presi- 
dent's office, where, in a short time, Mr. Lincoln 
would join me. The room into which I was 
ushered, was the same in which I had spent 
several hours with the President on the occasion 
of my first interview with him fourteen months 
before. Scattered about the floor, and lying open 
on the table, were several military maps and 
documents indicating recent use. On the wall 
I observed a picture of John Bright, of England. 


In a few minutes, the President came in, and 
received me in the most friendly manner. I 
expressed my regret at disturbing him at such 
an hour. He replied in a good humoured 
manner, saying, " No, no, you may route me 
up whenever you please. I have slept with 

Of an Abolitionist. 147 

one eye open since I came to Washington ; 
I never close both, except when an office-seeker 
is looking for me." 

" I am glad (referring to a letter I had sent 
him) you are pleased with the Emancipation 
Proclamation (issued a few weeks previously), 
but there is work before us yet ; we must make 
that Proclamation effective by victories over our 
enemies. It's a paper bullet after all, and of no 
account, except we can sustain it." 

The President's efforts being now directed to 
give freedom to the poor, despised, and long 
suffering people of the South, I expressed my 
belief that God would now aid the cause of the 
Union. He replied, " Well, I hope so ! but the 
suffering and misery that attends this conflict, 
is killing me by inches. I wish it was over." 


I then laid before the President the "rebel 
mail." He carefully examined the address of 
each letter, making occasional remarks. At 
length he found one addressed to an ex-Presi- 
dent of the United States, then residing in 
New Hampshire, and another to an ex-Attorney 
General of the United States, also a resident 
of that State. He appeared much surprised, 

148 Recollections and Experiences 

and remarked with a sigh, but, without the 
slightest tone of asperity, " I will have copies 
made of these letters, after which they shall be 
sent enclosed in official envelopes to these 
parties." When he had finished examining the 
addresses, he tied up all those addressed to 
private individuals, saying, " I will not bother 
with them ; but these look like official letters : 
I guess I'll go through them now." He then 
opened one after the other, and read their con- 
tents slowly and carefully. 

While he was thus occupied, I had an excel- 
lent opportunity of studying this extraordinary 
man. A marked change had taken place in his 
countenance since my first interview with him. 
He looked much older, and bore traces of 
having passed through months of painful anxiety 
and trouble. There was a sad, serious look in 
his eyes that spoke louder than words of the 
disappointments, trials, and discouragements he 
had encountered since the war began. The 
wrinkles about the eyes and forehead were 
deeper ; the lips were firmer, but indicative of 
kindness and forbearance. The great struggle 
had brought out the hidden riches of his noble 
nature, and developed virtues and capacities 
which surprised his oldest and most intimate 
friends. He was simple but astute : he pos- 

Of an Abolitionist. 149 

sessed the rare faculty of seeing things just as 
they are : he was a just, charitable, and honest 


Having finished reading a letter, he said : 
" Read this (handing me a letter signed by the 
Confederate Secretary of State), and tell me 
what you think of it." The letter was addressed 
to the rebel envoy at the French Court, and 
stated that preparations were being made to 
invade the Eastern frontier of the United States 
in the vicinity of Calais, Maine. It also 
expressed the opinion that an attack in so 
unexpected a quarter would dishearten the 
Northern people, and encourage the Democrats 
to oppose the continuation of the war. 

I told the President that this confirmed the 
truth of the information I had received several 
weeks previously, and satisfied me that the rebels 
would make an attempt to raid on some of 
the Eastern States from the British Provinces. 
He replied : " I wish you would go to New 
Brunswick, and see what the rebels are up to. 
The information contained in these despatches is 
of great importance. Two of them I cannot read, 
as they are written in cipher ; but I'll find some 
way to get at their contents." 

1 50 Recollections and Experiences 

I then rose to go, saying that I would go to 
the hotel, and have a rest. ' No, no ! it is now 
three o'clock ; you shall stay here while you 
are in town. Come with me, I'll find you a 
bed," said the President ; and, leading the way> 
he took me into a bedroom, saying : " Take a 
good sleep, you shall not be disturbed." Bidding 
me " Good-night," he left the room to go back 
and pore over the rebel letters until daylight, 
as he afterwards told me. 

If ever the Almighty raised up an individual 
to perform a special service, that person was 
Abraham Lincoln. No parent could evince a 
greater interest in the welfare of his family than 
he did for the safety and influence of his country. 
Every faculty he possessed was devoted to the 
salvation of the Union. 

I did not awake from my sleep until eleven 
o'clock in the forenoon, soon after which Mr. 
Lincoln came to my room, and laughingly 
said : "When you are ready, I'll pilot you down 
to breakfast," which he did ; and, seating him- 
self at the table, expressed his fears that trouble 
was brewing in the Province of New Brunswick ; 
that he had gathered further information on that 
point from the correspondence, that convinced 
him that such was the case. He was here 

Of an A bolitionist. 1 5 1 

interrupted by a servant, who handed him a 
card ; upon reading which he left me, saying, 
"Come up to my room after breakfast." 

On entering his room, I found him busily en- 
gaged in writing, at the same time repeating in a 
low voice the words of a poem, which I remem- 
bered reading many years before. When he 
stopped writing, I asked him who was the author 
of that poem. He replied, " I do not know. I 
have written the verses down from memory at 
the request of a lady who is much pleased 
with them. I wish I knew who was the author 
of them." He passed the sheet on which he had 
written the verses to me, saying, " Have you 
ever read them ?" I replied that I had many 
years ago ; and that I should be happy to have 
a copy of them in his handwriting, when he had 
time and inclination for such work. He said, 
" Well, you may keep that copy, if you wish." 

The following is the poem as copied from Mr. 
Lincoln's manuscript given me on that occasion : 


Oh ! why should the spirit of mortal be proud ? 
Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast flying cloud, 
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, 
He passeth from life to his rest in the grave. 

152 Recollections and Experiences 

The leaves of the oak and the willows shall fade, 
Be scattered around and together be laid ; 
As the young and the old, the low and the high, 
Shall crumble to dust, and together shall die. 

The infant a mother attended and loved : 
The mother that infant's affection who proved ; 
The father, that mother and infant who blest 
Each, all are away to that dwelling of rest. 

The maid, on whose brow, 011 whose cheek, in whose eye, 
Shone beauty and pleasure her triumphs are by j 
And alike from the minds of the living erased, 
Are the memories of mortals that loved her and praised. 

The hand of the king that the sceptre hath borne ; 
The brow of the priest that the mitre hath worn ; 
The eye of the sage, the heart of the brave, 
Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave. 

The peasant, whose lot was to sow and to reap ; 
The herdsman, who climbed with his goats up the steep ; 
The beggar, who wandered in search of his bread, 
Have faded away like the grass which we tread. 

So the multitude goes, like the flower or the weed, 
That withers away to let others succead ; 
So the multitude comes, even those we behold, 
To repeat every tale that has often been told. 

For we are the same our fathers have been ; 
We see the same sights they often have seen ; 
We drink the same stream, we see the same sun, 
And run the same course our fathers have run. 

The thoughts we are thinking, our fathers did think ; 
From the death we are shrinking, our fathers did shrink ; 
To the life we are clinging, our fathers did cling ; 
But it speeds from us all like the bird on the wing. 

Of an A bolitionist. 1 5 3 

They loved but the story we cannot unfold ; 
They scorned but the heart of the haughty is cold ; 
They grieved but no wail from their slumbers will come. 
They joyed but the tongue of their gladness is dumb. 

They died ; ah ! they died. We things that are now ; 
That walk on the turf that lies over their brow, 
And make in their dwelling a transient abode 
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road. 

Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain, 

Are mingled together in sunshine and rain ; 

And the smile and the tear, and the song and the dirge, 

Still follow each other like surge upon surge. 

'Tis the wink of an eye, the draught of a breath, 
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death, 
From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud. 
Oh ! why should the spirit of mortal be proud. 


The rebel documents contained abundant 
evidence that the Confederate Government was 
organizing a band in Canada to raid upon the 
United States frontier, and the President re- 
quested me to "go to New Brunswick, and ascer- 
tain what the rebels were up to in that quarter." 

That night I left Washington, and arrived in 
Boston in time to take the steamer for St. John, 
N. B. The boat was crowded with passengers ; 
and I had to share my stateroom with a gentle- 
man who came aboard at Portland. The fea- 

154 Recollections and Experiences 

tures of my room companion were dark and 
coarse ; his hair black and curling. He was 
about six feet in height, of tough and wiry frame. 
His language and general appearance was strik- 
ingly Southern. I retired to my berth before 
him, selecting the top one, that I might the 
more readily observe him ; for I had already 
concluded that my room-companion was a 


When he entered the stateroom, he intro- 
duced himself as the owner of one of the 
berths, and said : 4< I am glad you are not a 
Yankee." I asked him how he knew that. He 
replied : " I asked the clerk, and he said you 
were a Canadian ; besides, you don't look like a 
Yankee." " Well," I said, " you do not look like 
a Canadian or a Yankee either ; I would take 
you to be a Southern military officer." This 
touched his vanity, and he admitted that he 
had been in the military service of the Con- 
federacy, but that he was now engaged on 
special service. I felt now that I had sprung 
the mine. I told him that I thought the Con- 
federate Government were blind to their own 
interests, in this, that no advantage had been 
taken of the Canadian frontier to harass and 
annoy the Yankees along the border. 

Of an Abolitionist. 155 


" Well," said he, " we have had all we could 
do to keep the Yanks from our homes ; but 
they will soon know how it feels to have the 
war carried into their own homes. I tell you, 
before long, you will hear something exciting." 
I replied : " I have heard that so frequently that 
I don't place much reliance upon such reports." 
I saw he was nettled at what I had said, 
and hoped it would make him indiscreet. He 
remained silent a moment, and then said : 
" What I have told you is the truth, and before 
two weeks are over you will hear something 
exciting from Eastport. I don't mind telling 
you, because you are a Canadian, and the 
Canadians are all on our side. Yes, sir ; we have 
already a number of picked men in St. Andrews 
and St. Johns, New Brunswick, and we have a 
good supply of stores on Grand Menan Island. 
I expect thirty men from Canada next week. 
As soon as they arrive, we shall all go to 
Grand Menan, and prepare for an attack on 

Eastport ; and, by , we intend to wipe it 

out. And then we shall attack Calais in the 
rear, and, if hard pressed, retreat into New 
Brunswick." This astounding news corroborated 
the information obtained from the captured 

156 Recollections and Experiences 


On the arrival of the steamer at Eastport, I 
secured the arrest of my new acquaintance, and 
had him placed in prison. I telegraphed to 
Washington the information obtained from the 
rebel officer, and a gunboat was sent from Port- 
land to Eastport. In forty-eight hours from my 
.arrival, Eastport and Calais were fully prepared 
to meet the raiders. The Provincial authorities 
were also warned from Washington, and prompt 
steps taken to prevent any infraction of the 
Neutrality Laws on" the New Brunswick border. 

Returning to Portland, I sent the President a 
detailed narrative of the facts above related, 
and then returned to Montreal. In a few days, I 
received the following letter from Mr. Lincoln : 


Washington, Feb. 9, 1863. 

I tender you my warmest thanks for 
the effective and invaluable services you have 
recently rendered me. * * * 

Accept my best wishes for your prosperity 
and happiness, 

[Fac-simile of signature.'] 

Of an Abolitionist. 157 


The cruel and unnecessary arrest of the Hon. 
Joshua R. Giddings, Consul General of the 
United States, at Montreal, for the alleged con- 
nivance at the kidnapping of one Redpath, was 
incited by the Confederates in Montreal. Red- 
path had fled to Canada to escape punishment for 
crimes committed during the draft riots in New 
York. A detective officer was sent to Montreal 
to arrest him. He was arrested, ironed, placed 
in a close carriage, and driven to the depot. 
Where he was then guarded by an assistant 
while the New York detective went to the 
United States Consulate, and told Mr. Giddings 
that he had arrested a man charged with murder 
in New York ; and that having complied with 
the requirements of the Extradition Treaty, 
he wished Mr. Giddings to give him a letter to 
General Dix advising the General to compensate 
the detective for the services of an assistant 
required to convey Redpath to New York. Mr. 
Giddings, without ascertaining (for which he was 
in fault) whether all the formalities of the extra- 
dition treaty had been complied with, gave the 
detective a note to General Dix, in which he 
simply requested the General to remunerate the 
detective for the service of an assistant 

158 Recollections and Experiences 

When the detective reached New York with 
his prisoner, Redpath obtained legal advice. 
The result of which was, that the Canadian au- 
thorities demanded the return of Redpath to 
Canada. He was consequently brought back 
and liberated. Then the Southern agents 
in Montreal, took charge of this criminal, and 
induced him to prosecute Mr. Giddings. This 
was done to gratify their feelings of hatred 
toward a man who had for thirty years fought 
for the cause of human freedom. 


Mr. Giddings was arrested on Sunday evening 
while dining at the house of a friend. The 
arrest was made on a day and at an hour when 
it was hoped he would be unable to obtain bail, 
and consequently would have to lay in jail over 
night. Messrs. Harrison Stephens and Ira Gould, 
two prominent and wealthy citizens of Montreal, 
gave bonds for thirty thousand dollars for Mr. 
Giddings's appearance at the trial of the case. 
Thus his enemies were baulked in their mean 
attempt to throw an innocent old man into 
prison. Mr. Giddings was in poor health at the 
time this outrage was perpetrated ; and he fret- 
ted and grieved over it continually. After the 
rebel agents had used Redpath for their purpose, 
they cast him off. I concluded it was now 

Of an A bolitionist. 1 59 

a good time to get rid of Redpath and this per- 
secution of Mr. Giddings. I found the miserable 
creature after considerable search, and prevailed 
upon him to withdraw the suit, and confess that 
he had been urged by the Confederate agents in 
in Montreal to take action against Mr. Giddings. 
This persecution, I have no doubt, hastened the 
death of this noble old standard-bearer of liberty. 


He died suddenly while amusing himself with 
a game of billiards in the St. Lawrence Hall. 
In Congress, Mr. Giddings stood shoulder to 
shoulder with John Quincy Adams, in resist- 
ing the tyrannical and despotic demands of 
the slave drivers. On one occasion when Mr. 
Giddings was addressing the House in behalf of 
freedom, a Southern member approached him 
with a bowie knife in his hand, and threatened 
to kill him on the spot, if he did not cease speak- 
ing. Mr. Giddings was immediately surrounded 
by his friends, and continued his speech, while 
the cowardly ruffian who threatened him sneaked 
back to his seat. Mr. Giddings was not only a 
good man, but he was morally and physically a 
brave man. He espoused the cause of the slave 
at a time when an abolitionist was despised and 
persecuted ; and he remained all his life a warm 

160 Recollections and Experiences 

and constant friend of the oppressed. The 
many happy hours passed in his company, dur- 
ing the darkest periods of the war, will ever 
remain bright spots in my memory. 


The following Acts and Proclamation indicate 
the progressive steps by which, in the end, com- 
plete emancipation was reached. 

Attention is hereby called to an Act of Congress, entitled 
"An Act to make an additional article of war," approved 
March 13, 1862, and which Act is in the words and figures 
following : 

Be, it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
the United States of America in Congress assembled: That 
hereafter the following shall be promulgated as an additional 
article of war, for the government of the army of the United 
States, and shall be obeyed and observed as such : 

Article. All officers or persons in the military or naval ser- 
vice of the United States are prohibited from employing any 
of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose 
of returning fugitives from service or labor, who may have 
escaped from any persons to whom such labor is claimed to be 
due, and any officer who shall be found guilty by a court-mar- 
tial of violating this article, shall be dismissed from the ser- 

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That this Act shall take 
effect from and after its passage. 

Also, to the ninth and tenth sections of an Act entitled, 
"An Act to suppress insurrection, to punish treason and 
rebellion, to seize and confiscate the property of rebels, and 
for other purposes," approved July 17, 1862, and which 
sections are in the words and figures following : 

Of an Abolitionist. 161 

SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves or persons 
who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the Gov- 
ernment of the United States, or who shall in any way give 
aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking 
refuge within the lines of the army ; and all slaves captured 
from such persons or deserted by them and coming under the 
control of the Government of the United States ; and all 
slaves of such persons found on (or being within) any place 
occupied by rebel forces and afterward occupied by the forces 
of the United States, shall be deemed captures of war, and 
shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as 

SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That no slave escaping 
into any State, territory, or the district of Columbia, from 
any of the States shall be delivered up, or in any way 
impeded or hindered of his liberty, except for crime or some 
offence against the laws, unless the person claiming said 
fugitive shall first make oath that the person to whom the 
labor or service of such fugitive is alleged to be due, is his 
lawful owner, and has not been in arms against the United 
States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid and 
comfort thereto ; and no person engaged in the military or 
naval service of the United States shall, under any pretence 
whatever, arsume to decide on the validity of the claim of 
any person to the service or labour of any other person, or 
surrender up any such person to the claimant, on pain of 
being dismissed from the service. 


By the President of the United States of America. 

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the 
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, 
a Proclamation was issued by the President of the United 
States, containing among other things the following, to wit : 

' ' That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord 
one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held 
as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the 
people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United 
States, shall be then, thenceforth and forever free, and the 
Executive Government of the United States, including the 
military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and 

1 62 Recollections and Experiences 

maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or 
acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts 
they make for their actual freedom. 

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January 
aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of 
States, if any, in which the people thereof respectively shall 
then be in rebellion against the United States, and the fact 
that any State or the people thereof, shall on that day be in 
good faith represented in the Congress of the United States 
by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of 
the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, 
shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be 
deemed conclusive evidence that such State and the people 
thereof are not then in rebellion against the United States." 

Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the 
United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States 
in time of actual armed Rebellion against the authority and 
government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary 
war measure for suppressing said Rebellion, do, on this first 
day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight 
hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose 
so to do, publicly proclaim for the full period of one hundred 
days from the day of the first above-mentioned order, and 
designate, as the States and part of States wherein the people 
thereof respectively are this day in rebellion against the 
United States, the following, to wit : ARKANSAS, TEXAS, 
LOUISIANA (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Palquemines, 
Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, As- 
sumption, Terre Bonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and 
Orleans, including the City of Orleans), MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, 
VIRGINIA (except the forty-eight counties designated as West 
Virginia, and also the counties of Berkeley, Acconac, North- 
ampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, 
including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which 
excepted parts are, for the present, left precisely as if this 
Proclamation had not been issued. 

And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, 
I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within 
said designated States and parts of States are and hence- 
forward SHALL BE FREE ! and that the Executive Government 

Of an Abolitionist. 163 

of the United states, including the Military and Naval author- 
ities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said 

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free, 
to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence, 
and 1 recommend to them that in all cases, when allowed, 
they labour faithfully for reasonable wages. 

And I further declare and make known that such persons 
of suitable condition will be received into the armed service 
of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and 
other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service. 

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of 
justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military neces- 
sity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the 
gracious favour of Almighty God. 

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my name, and 
caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. 

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of 
January, in the year of our Lord one thousand 
[L. S.] eight hundred and sixty- three, and of the 
Independence of the United States the eighty- 


By the President. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, 

Secretary of State. 


The National Convention which assembled at Baltimore on 
the 7th of June, 1864, and there nominated ABRAHAM LIN- 
COLN for re-election* as President, with ANDREW JOHNSON as 
Vice-President, adopted and presented to the American people 
the following : 

Resolved, That, as Slavery was the cause, and now consti- 
tutes the strength, of this rebellion, and as it must be always 
and everywhere hostile to the principles of Republican gov- 
ernment, justice, and the national safety demand its utter and 

164 Recollections and Experiences 

complete extirpation from the soil of the Republic ; and that 
we uphold and maintain the acts and proclamations by which 
the Government, in its own defence, has aimed a death-blow 
at this gigantic evil. We are in favour, furthermore, of such 
an amendment to the Constitution, to be made by the people 
in conformity with its provisions, as shall terminate and for 
ever prohibit the existence of Slavery within the limits of the 
jurisdiction of the United States. 

ADDRESS, MARCH 4, 1865. 

FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN : At this second appearing to take 
the oath of the Presidential office, there is less occasion for an 
extended address than there was at the first. Then a state- 
ment, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued seemed 
very fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, 
during which public declarations have been constantly called 
forth on every point and phase of the great contest which 
still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the 
nation, little that is new could be presented. 

The progress of our amis, upon which all else chiefly 
depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it 
is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. 
With high hope for the future, no prediction with regard to 
it is ventured. 

On the occasion corresponding to this, four years ago, all 
thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. 
All dreaded it ; all sought to avoid it. While the inaugural 
address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether 
to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in 
the city seeking to destroy it without war seeking to dissolve 
the Union and divide the effects by negotiation. Both parties 
deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than 
let the nation survive ; and the other would accept war rather 
than let it perish, and the war came. 

One-eighth of the whole population were coloured slaves, 
not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the 
Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and 
powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow 
the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend 

Of an Abolitionist. 165 

this interest, was the object for which the insurgents would 
rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed 
no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlarge- 
ment of it. 

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the 
duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated 
that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before 
the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier 
triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. 

Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God ; and 
each invokes the aid against the other. It may seem strange 
that any man should dare to ask a just God's assistance in 
wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces ; 
but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers 
of both could not be answered. That of neither has been 
answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe 
unto the world because of offences, for it must needs be that 
offences come ; but woe to that man by whom the offence 
cometh. " If we shall suppose that American slavery is one 
of these offences, which, in the providence of God, must needs 
come, but which, having continued through His appointed 
time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both 
North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by 
whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any depar- 
ture from those divine attributes which the believers in a 
living God always ascribe to him ? Fondly do we hope, fer- 
vently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may soon 
pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the 
wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of 
unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood 
drawn with the lash, shall be paid with another drawn by the 
sword ; as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must 
be said, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous 
altogether. " 

With malice toward none, with charity to all, with firm- 
ness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive 
on to finish the work we are in ; to bind up the nation's 
wounds ; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, 
and for his widow and his orphans ; to do all which may 
achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves 
and with all nations. 

1 66 Recollections and Experiences 

The following amendment to the Constitution 
of the United States was ratified by vote of 
the Legislative Branches of the United States 
Government, February I, 1865 : 


SEC. 1. Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude, except 
as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been 
duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any 
place subject during their jurisdiction. 

SEC. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by 
appropriate legislation. 



|HE following extracts from a few of the 
letters received by me during the great 
rebellion, are published with a view to 
illustrate the varied hopes and fears that animated 
leading Abolitionists during the contest between 
freedom and slavery. Fac-similes of the auto- 
graph signatures of the writers are given. 


New York, May igth, 1863. 

Since the outbreak of our terrible war, I have 
made it a rule to be rarely or ever away from our 
city for any distance. I should like very much 
to meet you and Mr. Giddings at Gerrit Smith's 
next week, but it is not possible for me. * * * 

Yours faithfully, 

1 68 Recollections and Experiences 


Washington, June 4th, 1863. 

I take this occasion to renew my thanks for 
your solicitous attention to the interests of this 
Government. * Your zeal 

merits the highest praise. 

Yours, very respectfully, 


Montreal, October I3th, 1863. 

* * * * * I fully agree with you, 
my clear friend, that any act, command, or enact- 
ment, violative of the eternal principles of right 
and liberty are void ; that they have none of the 
essence or elements of law ; that they are the 
mere mandates of despots ; that it is not only 
right for you to disregard such mandates, but it 

Of an Abolitionist. 169 

is your duty. There can be no law which in- 
vades the rights of any innocent being to life, 
liberty, and happiness. * 

Your friend, 


Peterboro', August 31, 1864. 

* * I had strong fears from 

the first that you would be baffled. We thank 
you for your noble and benevolent purpose, and 
accept the will for the deed. I believe the 
Heavenly Father means that my country shall 
live ; she has more to fear just now from North- 
ern demagogues than from Southern rebels. 

Your friend, 

170 Recollections and Experiences 


Boston, September 4th, 1864. 

Mr. Lincoln may, probably does, wish the 
grand result, freedom to the negro but he is too 
much a border statesman in his opinions. Hence 
the negro is not to him a man in the full sense. 
Hence he overrates the prejudices and comfort 
of the slaveholders. Consequently, though he 
desires the' result, he hesitates at the MEANS. 
Public opinion has bayonetted him up to his 
present position, and may yet save us through him, 
or rather in spite of him ; but it is a very dangerous 
risk to run. SETTLEMENT is a more dangerous 
hour than war. Hence I oppose Lincoln's re- 
election ; prominent republicans dread it. The 
leading Senator of New England said lately, 
" Lincoln's election would be destruction Mc- 
Clellan's would be damnation ;" so the leaders 
are making an effort to induce Lincoln to with- 
draw, and unite all earnest men on a better can- 
didate. If we effect that, we are safe ; if not, 
there is great danger that McClellan will be 
elected, then we should have to rely wholly upon 
the people to prevent his doing the harm he 
intends. I trust the people fully ; but dread 
such a trial. The aim of all true men is either 
to replace Lincoln, or to array such a force 

Of an Abolitionist. 171 

against him as will oblige him to surround him- 
self with a Cabinet of different wood. 

The task we have to do, is a very great one. 
Davis made a rebellion : it was all he could do. 
Lincoln, by tampering, delay, indecision, and 
long tenderness for slavery, has made a Confed- 
eracy united, proud, with friends and military 

With great regard and many thanks for all 
you have done for us, 


Peterboro', October 2Oth, 1864. 

I am glad to learn that your heart is set on 
Lincoln's re-election. * * This nation 

will live. It has given ample proof that it can 
withstand both foreign and domestic foes ; both 
Northern and Southern rebels. Yes, this nation 

172 Recollections and Experiences 

will live to see herself and the whole continent 
free from oppressors not from slaveholders only, 
but from Imperial despots also. As life is the 
law of righteousness, so death is the law of 
wickedness ; and the wickedness of the demo- 
cratic party is Hearing that extreme limit, where 
wickedness dies of itself. Be of good cheer 
God is for us. 

Your friend, 



January 3ist, 1865. 

***** God bless your 
patriotic labor in our behalf. You have done a 
noble work, and deserve the thanks of every true 
American. Accept my best wishes and believe 

Fathfully yours, 

Of an Abolitionist. 173 


Peterboro', March loth, 1865. 

Many thanks for this excellent likeness of our 
dear friend Giddings. I hope to meet him in 
heaven. * * * 

The end of the terrible rebellion is at hand. 
I hope to hear this week of the capture of the 
remainder of Lee's army, and of the taking of 
Mobile. Heaven bless you for your active in- 
terest in our cause. 

Your friend, 



Brooklyn, March nth, 1865. 

I thank you for your very able pamphlet that 
reached me yesterday. I am glad for your own 
section, that there is at least one (and I trust 
there are many) who will stand up for the liberty 
cause amidst so many who seem to owe the free 
people of the United States a grudge, and to 
give it exemplification in striking hands with the 
pirates and thieves who carry on the great rebel- 
lion. In the coming time no more mortifying 

174 Recollections and Experiences- 

chapter will be written in Canadian history, than 
the sad story of the aid and comfort given these 
enemies of mankind by her people. But I trust 
that the ancient philosophy will attain with you 
that a few good men will save a city so shall 
it be said, that for your fidelity and those who act 
with you, the wrong done us by the great mass 
of Canadian people, shall be forgotten. Slavery 
and rebellion which are two names for one thing 
nears its close. Thank God for the war ! Indeed, 
I have scarcely seen human hands in all this great 
struggle. His mighty arm has wielded the sword 
of justice, and in the North, as well as in the 
South, His wide swath can be tracked. The man 
who thought he was rich in money made out of 
southern trade, is to-day a Pauper. His children 
are Beggars and the men who most of all, and 
singularly enough,took sides with the slaveholders 
in all political actions, were the Irish people, and 
they from their necessities, were found early, 
largely in the army. At least 50,000 of these 
people have gone out from us to return no more 
forever. A very great number are among us car- 
rying an armless coat sleeve, or some other mark 
of rebel work. I hope to meet you in Canada the 
coming summer. Again, thanking you in behalf 
of our liberty-loving people for your good wishes. 
Yours very truly, 


Of an Abolitionist. 175 

Albany, April nth, 1865. 

* I thank you in behalf 

of the loyal people of this State, for your 
patriotic services in our behalf. Your interest 
in our cause, I assure you, is highly appreciated. 

Again, thanking you, 

I remain yours respectfully. 


Boston, May 13, 1865. 

* Your active and 

sympathetic interest, in behalf of the freedmen 
of our country, will do much to engender 
kindly feelings between the United States and 
Canada. * * * * 


176 Recollections and Experiences 


Amesburg, 27, 5th mo., 1865. 

It gives me great satisfaction to see 
the friends of freedom in Canada and England 
acting in behalf of the freedmen of the United 
States. * * * 

The tears which both nations are shedding 
over the grave of our beloved President are 
washing out all the bitter memories of miscon- 
ception and estrangement between them. So 
good comes of the evil. 

Oh, Englishmen ! in hope and creed, 

In blood and tongue our brothers ; 
We too are heirs of Runymede, 
And Shakespeare's fame and Cromwell's deed 

Are not alone our mother's. 

Thicker than water in one rill, 

Through centuries of story; 
Our Saxon blood has flow'd, and still 
We share with you the good and ill, 

The shadow and the glory. 

Thine truly, 

Of an Abolitionist. 177 



June, 3rd, 1865. 

* * I am glad to know the 
cause of the United States has so strenuous a 
defender in Canada. Your zealous and patriotic 
labours merit the thanks of all who desire the 
prosperity of this country. 

Faithfully yours, 


Boston, June I2th, 1865. 

I will mail you, with this, my last two speeches 
and evening talks on Lincoln's death, from which 
you will get a fuller view of my present position 
than I could give you in a note. 

I will only add, that since those speeches, I 
have become more and more anxious and doubt- 
ful about the policy our President will pursue. 
The Cabinet are about equally divided on the 
question of negro suffrage. But we hope to 
make an active use of the interval before the 
next session of Congress, to manifest (I say 

178 Recollections and Experiences 

manifest, because it already exists,) such a deter- 
mined public opinion as will awe the Govern- 
ment into following that radical course in which 
the masses are abundantly ready to support them. 
Time will show what we can do. Politicians are 
slippery reliance in war times as well as in peace. 
Thank you for all your active and zealous 
efforts in our behalf. 

Your friend,. 


Peterboro', July 1st, 1865. 
* * * Slavery has received its 
death blow ; but it is by no means certain that 
our nation will be saved or still united. We may 
have first to pass through a war of races. I am 
not satisfied with the course our goverment is 
pursuing in the matter of " reconstruction." My 
poor, guilty country cannot be saved so long as it 
hates and persecutes the black man. Our nation 
is lost, if the Freedmen are denied the ballot. 
Your friend, 

Of an Abolitionist. 



Brescia (Italy), September, 1865. 

I rejoice with you over the 
destruction of slavery in the American Republic. 
* * * Cloisters and prisons are not His 

work. God made liberty man made slavery. 

Ever yours, 



August 13, 1865. 

* * * * Freedom makes Light and 
Life. Slavery makes deafness in the soul. 

Accept, sir, the homage of my respect. 



|HE following letters and pamphlets I 
had published and circulated extensively 
throughout Canada, with a view to aid 
the cause of the North, by arousing sympathy, 
awakening humane and liberal sensibilities, and 
drawing more enlightened attention to the objects 
of the great struggle between freedom and slavery 
in the United States. 

I felt persuaded that once the Canadian peo- 
ple were rightly informed as to the nature and 
objects of the slaveholders, their sympathies 
would be given to the North in her efforts to 
crush the rebellion, and prevent the establishment 
on this continent of a government 

" With one great bloodstone for its mighty base." 

Of an Abolitionist. 181 


AND FREEDOM." Hon. Charles Sumner. 



Every step in progress the world has made 
since the advent of Christ, has been made from 
the cross to the scaffold, and from stake to stake. 
All the great truths relating to society and self- 
government, have been first heard in the solemn 
protests of dying martyrs and patriots, who have 
yielded up their lives a sacrifice to obtain free- 
dom and liberty for mankind. 

The great contest now being waged in the 
United States, is a struggle between a higher and 
lower civilization a continuation of the struggle 
between light, liberty, and freedom, and the 
ruling powers of wickedness and tyranny, which 
began at the advent of our Saviour, and has 
been continued by his apostles, and by martyrs 
and patriots from that time to the present day. 

Never, since the revolt of Satan against the 
government of Jehovah, has there been a rebel- 
lion so utterly causeless and unjustifiable as the 
Slaveholders' Rebellion. Actuated by the same 
wicked ambition that moved Satan to rebel 

1 82 Recollections and Experiences 

against righteousness, peace, and justice in 
heaven, the slaveholders are seeking to over- 
throw the only really republican government on 
earth, and to erect upon its ruins a despotism of 
the vilest description the foundation of which is 
to be human slavery ; and thus crush out forever 
the refuge and hope of liberty-loving men of 
every nation and people. 

The rebellious slaveholders never furnished 
any list of grievances, never cited any acts of 
despotism on the part of the government against 
which they rebelled. Their only excuse was, 
that a party had come into power, the leaders of 
which had some moral feeling in reference to 
slavery. It could not be truthfully alleged that 
Mr. Lincoln proposed to infringe upon their state 
rights or peculiar privileges. No ; the actual 
and only object was (in case they proved suc- 
cessful in their appeal to arms), to found a slave 
empire upon this continent, and extend the bane- 
ful curse of slavery all over this land, from the 
Atlantic to the Pacific, and repudiate the God- 
given right to all men of life, liberty, and the 
pursuit of happiness. They wish to establish a 
government for the rich and powerful, that they 
may the more firmly rivet the chains of bondage 
and despotism upon the poor black people 
of this continent. 

Of an Abolitionist. 183 

The slaveholders, and their supporters in the 
North, had for fifty years controlled the govern- 
ment of the United States, and used their 
patronage and power to advance the interests of 
slavery, and force compromise after compromise 
from the northern people. During the past eight 
years the Republican or anti-slavery party in 
the Free States had gained strength rapidly. 
Their principles were inimical to slavery, and 
especially to its extension to the great territories 
of the west. No attempt, however, was made or . 
could be made constitutionally to interfere with 
slavery in those States where it was legalized 
by local enactments. Under the Federal Con- 
stitution, every State has the right to make 
such laws and enactments as will not conflict 
with the Constitution of the United States- 
The President has no power, in time of peace, 
to interfere with the institutions of any State, 
and there is clearly no such power in Congress. 
But, for thirty years the slaveholders had been 
seeking a pretext to rebel, and when the people 
of the Free States nominated as their candidate 
for the office of President, Abraham Lincoln, 
they at once declared that in case he was elected, 
they would never submit to the will of the ma- 
jority, but would rebel and disrupt the nation, 
and establish a Confederacy, the corner stone of 
which should be human slavery. 

184 Recollections and Experiences 

For thirty years the gulf between the Free 
and Slave States had grown wider and wider. 
The conflict between freedom and slavery 
had become fiercer and more bitter year after 
year. The anti-slavery party, of which John 
Quincy Adams, Joshua R. Giddings, Gerrit 
Smith, and other noble advocates of freedom, 
were the founders, had increased and become a 
great, influential, and powerful party, spreading 
its influence and principles throughout the coun- 
try. For many years after the inception of this 
party, its leaders and advocates were subjected 
to the most persistent abuse and persecution at 
the hands of slaveholders and their sympathisers 
in the North. But the little cloud that appeared 
no larger than a man's hand thirty years ago, 
now overshadows the whole Union. 

The triumphant election of Abraham Lincoln, 
convinced the Southern despots that hereafter 
the power and influence of the General Govern- 
ment would be exerted to extend the blessings 
of freedom and liberty, and establish for ever 
the immortal principle that all men have "the 
inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit 
of happiness." 

True to their wicked purpose, the slaveholders 
precipitated the country into a bloody and cruel 

Of an Abolitionist. 185 

war, which has continued, with varied success, 
for nearly four years. I believe that out of 
this conflict will arise great good to mankind, 
and that, when this conflict is ended, free- 
dom will be universal throughout the great 
American Republic. What a glorious future 
awaits the United States, when slavery is for- 
ever crushed, and the energies of her enlight- 
ened millions shall be devoted to extending 
the principles of freedom and self-government 
over the continent of America, and in welcoming 
the poor down- trodden masses of Europe! 

The United States deserve the sympathy of 
every Christian man and nation, because they 
have espoused the cause of freedom, and are 
contending for the rights of man. And although 
the loss of life and suffering consequent upon 
the great struggle is to be deplored, I feel con- 
vinced it is all for the best ; for had the North 
been successful in crushing the rebellion at an 
earlier period we would not have attained that 
result which every good man should desire 
the abolition of human slavery. 

With what gigantic strides the cause of 
freedom has advanced since the war broke 
out, and what glorious results have been 
worked out ! At the outbreak of the rebellion, 

1 86 Recollections and Experiences 

there were four millions of human beings in 
bondage in the Southern States, and the day of 
deliverance seemed very remote. They were 
held down by the most wicked, vile, and cruel 
system of slavery ever devised ; and possessed 
no right which a white man was bound to re- 

How different their condition at present \ 
Hundreds of thousands are now enjoying the 
blessings of freedom and liberty, and the whole 
power and influence of the Northern States is 
being exerted in their behalf. The constitutional 
amendment abolishing slavery throughout the 
Union has passed both the Senate and House 
of Representatives, and will shortly be ratified 
by the required number of States to make it 
an accomplished fact. When that glorious deed 
is done, what an enviable and proud position 
will the United States occupy! Cleansed from 
the foul blot of slavery, it will be a beacon- 
light to every people and nation. Several of 
the former Slaveholding States have already 
emancipated their slaves, and commenced 
a new and glorious career in the new nation of 
Free States. Thus the good work of emancipa- 
tion goes on, and will continue until freedom is 

Of an Abolitionist. 187 


Our Almighty Father has given to all men 
the right to live, the right to enjoy the light of 
the sun, the right to breathe the vital air, to 
unfold his moral nature, to learn the laws that 
control his moral and physical being, to bring 
himself into harmony with these laws, and to 
enjoy that happiness which is consequent upon 
such obedience ; and wherever a human soul 
exists, that law applies. I mean by the term 
soul that immortal principle in man which exists 
hereafter ; and where such a soul exists there is 
the right to live, to attain knowledge, the right 
to sustain life, obey the laws of his Creator, and 
enjoy heaven and happiness, and the poorest 
slave on earth has this inalienable right ; and 
whoever deprives him of that right outrages both 
the laws of God and nature. In defiance of 
these sacred laws, four millions of innocent 
human beings have long been deprived of all 
these rights and subjected to a cruel bondage by 
the slaveholders of the South. Thank God, the 
hour of their deliverance is at hand ; and how 
severe the punishment now being meted out, 
by a just God, to those wicked and misguided men 
who sought to establish a government in violation 
of God's most sacred laws ! 

May 1 6th, 1865. 

1 88 Recollections and Experiences 

IN Memory of JOSHUA R. GIDDINGS, who died 
May 27th, 1864, at Montreal. 

Mr. Giddings was one of the truest, most con- 
sistent, and courageous advocates of freedom in 
the Northern States. For thirty years he faith- 
fully laboured, both in and out of Congress, to 
bring about the abolition of slavery, and before 
he was called away from earth he was per- 
mitted to see the dawning of brighter and better 
days for his country. Only one day prior to his 
death he remarked to the writer, while convers- 
ing upon national topics, " I have but one desire 
to live longer, and that is, to see the complete 
triumph of the cause to which I have given 
the energies of my life." This noble and vener- 
able patriot was one of the few statesmen in 
the Northern States who felt the humiliation 
of sharing the responsibility of slavery. 

The writer was honoured with the confidence 
and regard of Mr. Giddings, and was with him 
much during the last weeks of his life. He 
possessed a kind and genial nature, and when 
conversing upon the glory that he believed 
awaited his country, when every human being 
whether black or white, should be in possession 
of the God-given right of freedom and equality, 
his countenance would glow with animation and 


Of an Abolitionist. 189 

Mr. Giddings was a thorough abolitionist in 
principle. He did not, like many of the states- 
men of the present day, stop merely at emanci- 
pation, but demanded that every innocent man 
was entitled not only to liberty and equality 
before the law, but also to the right of suffrage. 
Thirty years ago he bravely advocated the 
cause of the poor down-trodden slave, when to 
be called an abolitionist was considered a disgrace 
and a dishonour ; neither threats of personal vio- 
lence nor abuse could daunt the spirit of this 
heroic and Christian man ; and, from his first 
entrance into public life to the day of his decease, 
he never allowed an opportunity to escape him of 
advocating the cause of those in bondage. The 
poor slave always had in him a warm defender and 
true friend. His position on this great question, 
classes him with Wilberforce and Clarkson, names 
dear to humanity, who were the first in England 
to speak for the enslaved race. He strove with 
all his power to eradicate the foul blot of slavery 
from his native land ; and, before he took his 
departure for his heavenly home, he was permit- 
ted to catch a glimpse of the bright future in 
store for his country. 

Few names will rank above his when the long 
conflict with slavery is ended, and justice done 
to those who fought for the right. 

190 Recollections and Experiences 

' ' Angelic peace ! stay not long, 
But sit beside the patriot's tomb, 
And sing an everlasting song, 
Of Freedom's triumph, Slavery's doom ; 
Unite the several links again, 
The golden links of every State, 
That men may tell their fellow men. 
Columbia stands, free, blest, and great. ' 

June, 1865. 


Human slavery has been denounced by all the 
great and good men of the Christian world, as a 
" relic of barbarism." The fathers of the Amer- 
ican Republic, pronounced it an outrage, and 
deplored its existence ; and the Bible also rises 
up in judgment against this iniquitous institu- 

Notwithstanding all this array of evidence 
against human slavery, the bold attempt has re- 
cently been made in this city, Toronto, by a pro- 
slavery clergyman, to inculcate the falsehood that 
human slavery was devised by our Heavenly 
Father, and is, consequently, in perfect accord- 
ance with His Almighty designs. 

To the humane and enlightened among us, it 
may appear a work of supererogation to publicly 

Of an Abolitionist. 191 

protest against this absurd pretension ; but I 
deem it my duty, as an anti-slavery man, and in 
presenting my protest, I shall avail myself of 
the opportunity afforded me, of recording the 
testimony of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, 
Monroe, Patrick Henry, and John Randolph, 
all residents of Virginia, and the most illustrious 
men of their day ; and thus show those in 
Canada who sympathize with the slaveholders' 
rebellion, the hideous serpent they are helping 
to warm into life ; for the Vice-President of the 
rebellious States, has declared that " Slavery is 
the chief Corner-stone of the Confederate Govern- 

Is it possible, after reading the opinions of the 
great and good men above quoted, and the testi- 
mony of the Bible, that any man, professing to 
be a follower and believer in the meek and lowly 
Jesus, can give his sympathies or countenance to 
such a heaven-defying scheme ? Is it possible 
that any liberty-loving Briton can countenance 
the establishment of a government with such a 
foundation, after reading the declaration of 
Brougham and Wesley upon the vile and wicked 
institution of slavery ? These great men knew 
whereof they affirmed : they were familiar with 
the laws of the Slave States, which are alone 
sufficient to inspire horror in every human heart 
or reflecting mind. 

192 Recollections and Experiences 

GEORGE WASHINGTON says : " There is not a 
man living who wishes more sincerely than I do 
to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery." 
George Washington, April I2th, 1786. "The 
scheme, my dear Marquis, which you propose as 
a precedent to encourage the emancipation of 
the black people in this country, from the state 
of bondage in which they are held, is a striking 
evidence of the benevolence of your heart." 
Washington to Layfctte, 1783. 

" It is the most earnest wish of America to see 
an entire stop put to the ^wicked and cruel trade 
in slaves." Meeting at Fairfax, Va., presided 
over by Washington, July 18, 1784. 

THOMAS JEFFERSON says, in his " Notes on 
Slavery in Virginia :" " I tremble for my coun- 
try, when I reflect that God is just. His just- 
ness cannot sleep for ever." 

JAMES MADISON says: "We have seen the 
mere distinction of colour, made in the most en- 
lightened period of time, a ground of the most 
oppresssive dominion ever exercised by man over 

JAMES MONROE says : " We have found that 
this evil has preyed upon the very vitals of the 
Union, and has been prejudicial to all the States 
in which it has existed." 

Of an Abolitionist. 193 

JOHN RANDOLPH, of Roanoke, says, "I envy 
neither the head nor the heart of that man who 
defends slavery upon principle." 

THOMAS JEFFERSON says: " One day of Ameri- 
can slavery is worse than a thousand years of that 
which the American colonists arose in arms to 
oppose." Alluding to slave insurrections, he 
said : " The Almighty has no attribute that can 
take sides with us, in a contest with our slaves." 

PATRICK HENRY says : " Slavery is detestable. 
We feel its fatal effects. We deplore it with all 
the pity of humanity T 

Surely here is evidence sufficient to convince 
any but the most prejudiced, of the iniquity of 
slavery as it exists in the South. The great men 
above quoted, were residents of Virginia, and 
the founders of the Republic. 

LORD BROUGHAM says : " Tell me not of 
rights. Talk not of the property of the planter 
in his slaves. I deny the rights I acknowledge 
not the property. The principles the feelings 
of our common nature rise in rebellion against 
it. Be the appeal made to the understanding or 
to the heart, the sentence is the same that rejects 
it. In vain you may tell me of laws that sanc- 

Recollections and Experiences 

tion such a claim. There is a law above all the 
enactments of human codes : it is the law writ- 
ten by the finger of God upon the heart of man, 
and by that law, unchangeable and eternal, while 
men despise fraud, and loathe rapine and abhor 
blood, they shall reject with indignation the wild 
and guilty fantasy that man can hold property 
in man." 

JOHN WESLEY declares, " slavery to be the 
sum of all villainies." 

Miss SARAH M. GRIMKE, daughter of the late 
Judge Grimke, of the Supreme Court of South 
Carolina, testifies as follows : " As I left my na- 
tive land on account of slavery, and deserted the 
home of my father to escape the sound, of the 
lash and the shrieks of tortured victims, I would 
gladly bury in oblivion the recollection of those 
scenes with which I have been familiar. But 
that cannot be, they come over my memory like 
goary spectres, and implore me with resistless 
force, in the name of a God of mercy, in the 
name of a crucified Saviour, for the sake of the 
poor slave, to bear witness to the horrors of the 
Southern prison-house." 

Among the horrible barbarities she enumer- 
ates, is the case of a young girl, thirteen years 

Of an Abolitionist. 195 

old, who was flogged to death by her master. 
She says : " I asked a prominent lawyer who 
belonged to one of the first families in the State, 
whether the murderer of this helpless child could 
not be indicted ? and he cooly replied, " the slave 

was Mr. 's property, and if he chose to suffer 

the loss, no one else had anything to do with it." 
She proceeds to say : " I felt there could be no 
rest for me in the midst of such outrages and 

THE BIBLE says : 

" Remember them that are in bonds, as bound 
with them." Heb. xiii. 3. 

" Hide the outcasts. Betray not him that 
wandereth. Let my outcasts dwell with thee. 
Be thou a covert to them from the face of the 
spoiler." Isa. xvi. 3, 4. 

" Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the 
servant which has escaped from his master unto 
thee. He shall dwell with thee. Thou shalt not 
oppress him." Deut. xxiii. 15, 16. 

"Whatsoever ye would that men should do 
to you, do ye even so to them." Matt. vii. 12. 

" Is not this the fast I have chosen to loose the 
bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens 

196 Recollections and Experiences 

and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye 
break every yoke ?" Isa. Iviii. 6. 

" They have given a boy for an harlot, and 
sold a girl for wine, that they may drink." Joel 
iii. 3- 

" He that oppresseth the poor, reproacheth his 
Maker." Prov. xiv. 31. 

" Rob not the poor because he is poor ; neither 
oppress the oppressed. For the Lord will plead 
their cause, and spoil the soul of them that spoil 
them." Prov. xxii. 22, 23. 

" Masters give unto your servants that which 
is just and equal ; knowing that ye also have a 
Master in heaven." Col. iv. i. 

" Neither be ye called masters, for one is your 
Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren." 
Matt, xxiii. 8, 9. 

"Woe unto him that useth his neighbour's 
service without wages, and giveth him not for his 
work." Jer. xxii. 13. 

" Behold, the hire of your labourers who have 
reaped down your fields, which is of you kept 
back by fraud, crieth ; and the cries of them 
which have reaped are entered into the ears of 
the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure 
on the earth, and been wanton : ye have nour- 

Of an Abolitionist. 197 

ished your hearts as in a day of slaughter."- 
Jas. v. 4, 5. 

The above quotations, from both the Old and 
New Testaments, prove conclusively that the pre- 
sumptuous assertion, that " slavery is sanctioned 
by the Bible," has no foundation in fact. The 
human heart, reason, religion, and, above all, the 
Bible, rise up in judgment against it. 

The universal law in the Slave States is, that 
"the child follows the condition of the mother." 
This is an index to many things. Marriage be- 
tween white and coloured people, is forbidden 
by law ; yet a very large number of the slaves 
are brown or yellow. How could this be, unless 
their fathers or grandfathers had been white 
men ? But as their mothers were slaves, slave 
laws pronounce them slaves also, subject to be 
sold on the auction block, whenever the necessi- 
ties or convenience of their masters and mis- 
tresses require it, The sale of one's own children 
has an ugly aspect to those unaccustomed to it. 

Throughout the Slave States, no coloured 
person's testimony can be taken against a white 
man. Any drunken master or overseer may go 
into the negro cabin, and commit any outrage 
he pleases with perfect impunity, if no white 
person is present who will witness against him. 

198 Recollections and Experiences 

Slave laws declare that "a slave is a chattel 
to all intents and purposes whatsoever." This 
involves the right to sell his wife and children* 
as if they were cattle. There are large numbers 
of fugitives from slavery in Canada, with many 
of whom I have conversed. I have seen the 
scars of the whip and branding iron, and have 
listened to their heart-broken sobs as they told 
of their wives and children torn from their arms 
to be sold. 

Viewing slavery in the light of the above tes- 
timony, is there a Christian man in Canada who 
does not feel it an outrage upon his feelings to 
have it boldly and plausibly asserted that the 
Bible upholds such a heaven-defying pretension, 
that tramples upon the most sacred relations^ 
making wife and child the wretched prey of lust 
and avarice ? 

* "0 execrable son ! so to aspire 
Above his brethren, to himself assuming 
Authority usurped, from God not given ! 
He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl, 
Dominion absolute ; that right we hold 
By His donation ; but man over men 
He made not Lord, such title to Himself 
Reserving, human left from human free." 

Milton's Paradise Lost, Bk. XII. 64, 73. 

February 3, 1865. 

Of an Abolitionist. 199 

OCTOBER 2isT, 1863. 

the subject of slavery are by many considered 
ultra ; but I have been an eye-witness to the 
cruelty, injustice, and barbarity of that vile and 
atrocious institution, and know whereof I speak. 
In October, 1859, while on a visit to Rich- 
mond, Virginia, I was forcibly reminded of the 
truth of the saying, " The wicked fleeth when no 
man pursueth." I found the population of that 
city in a condition of great excitement ; a feeling 
of dread and insecurity prevailed which extended 
to every part of the State. You will naturally 
ask the cause of this excitement, this feeling of 
insecurity and dread. The people of Virginia 
were at that time living under the protection of 
a government intensely pro-slavery ; they were 
in the enjoyment of all their State rights : the 
cause of this dread and insecurity in the minds 
of slaveholders was produced by the sudden 
darting of a ray of light from Harper's Ferry, 
a ray of light that penetrated the pending gloom 
and ignorance which hung like a cloud over the 
darkened minds of 4,000,000 enslaved human 

2OO Recollections and Experiences 

beings. John Brown had stricken a blow on 
the confines of slavery, the echoes of which 
resounded on every plantation, and entered the 
humble cabin of the poor slave as well as the 
mansion of the proud and haughty slaveholder, 
and roused the long-deferred hope in the bosom 
of millions of poor, downtrodden, and long- 
suffering slaves that the hour of their deliver- 
ance from a cruel tyranny was .at hand ; and 
prayers ascended from a thousand rude cabins 
to the Almighty Father for freedom, justice, and 
liberty. Is it a matter of surprise that a feeling 
of dread and insecurity was felt in the mansion 
of the proud and haughty master, when a million 
earnest prayers were going up to the throne of 
God for justice and freedom ? 

It is not unusual to hear the tales of cruelty 
and oppression toward this unfortunate people 
spoken of as a fiction ; and that interesting work 
of Mrs. Stowe (Uncle Tom's Cabin) has been 
declared by slaveholders and Northern sympa- 
thisers with slavery, as entirely imaginary and 
unworthy of belief. 

Mr. President, I have read that and other 
kindred works upon the institution of slavery, 
and assure you I have witnessed scenes of 
oppression, cruelty, and brutality towards that 

Of an Abolitionist. 201 

inoffensive people in the Slave States, far exceed- 
ing anything described in works of the kind 

Slavery is demoralizing in its tendencies to 
the white as well as to the black, to the master 
as well as to the slave. Where it exists, it 
brutalizes and renders the white domineering, 
despotic and brutal. The black race is kept in 
a condition of the grossest ignorance, and the 
circulation of knowledge is guarded with a 
jealous eye, with a view to prevent the slave 
from gaining information. The discussion of 
subjects which would be likely to reach the 
darkened but alert mind of the coloured people, 
is sternly prohibited. For fifty years past, the 
Government of the United States has been under 
the control of Southern men, and they have 
persistently endeavoured to extend their domi- 
neering tyranny over the entire North ; and 
until within the past twenty-five years, there 
were few prominent men in the North with 
sufficient moral courage to face the proud and 
overbearing dictation of the slave lords in the 
Senate and Congress. The venerable John 
Quincy Adams, and that noble veteran and 
apostle of freedom, the late Joshua R. Giddings 
took a firm and decided stand twenty-five years 
ago for freedom, and bravely asserted that all 

2O2 Recollections and Experiences 

men, black and white, had the " inalienable right 
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ;" 
and for many years these two noble men with- 
stood a united Senate and House of Congress, 
and the cowardly and assassinlike threats and 
abuse of the slave-drivers of the South. The 
lamp lighted by Garrison, Adams, and Giddings, 
continued to burn with increased brilliancy year 
after year, and in many of the free States 
societies were formed to promote the abolition 
of Slavery by the dissemination of information 
throughout the North, describing the actual con- 
dition of the poor downtrodden slaves and to 
awaken an interest in behalf of that oppressed 
people. The leaders in this movement had to 
withstand the most vindictive persecution at 
the hands of Southern men and their sympa- 
thisers in the North. Prominent upon the roll 
of men \vho have rendered their names immortal 
by the advocacy of the rights of man may be 
mentioned the names of John Quincy Adams, 
Joshua R. Giddings, William Lloyd Garrison, 
Wendell Phillips, Gerritt Smith, Horace Greeley, 
Charles Su inner, and other noble men and 
women who have laboured with great zeal 
and sacrifice to bring about the abolition of 
human slavery in the United States. The 
slaveholders used every influence in their power 
to prevent discussions upon the subject of 

Of an Abolitionist. 203 

slavery, and when they failed to meet the argu- 
ments of the anti-slavery men, they assumed the 
domineering and despotic attitude of the slave- 
driver, and attempted, by acts of cowardly 
brutality, to stifle discussion with the bowie- 
knife, pistol, and bludgeon. The late Mr. Gid- 
dings, when a member of Congress, and while 
addressing the House upon the rights of man, 
was threatened with instant death if he uttered 
another word upon the subject; but the brave 
old statesman well knew the cowardly character 
of slaveholders, and continued his address in 
defiance of the cowardly threat. And more 
recently the Hon. Charles Sumner was attacked 
while seated at his desk in the Senate Chamber, 
and nearly assassinated by a Southern member 
of Congress, while another Southerner stood over 
the victim of this brutal outrage with a cocked 
pistol, to prevent the bystanders from rendering 
aid to Mr. Sumner while his Southern confrere, 
with murderous intent, brutally assaulted an 
unarmed man. This outrage upon Mr. Sumner 
was committed because his arguments, proving 
the " Barbarism of Slavery," were unanswerable. 
In this manner the South has endeavoured to 
control the nation and extend and perpetuate 
the blighting curse of slavery. And when the 
slaveholders found they could no longer brow- 
beat and force the liberty-loving people of the 

2O4 Recollections and Experiences 

North into acquiescence with their barbarous 
designs, they rebelled, and are now endeavoring 
to establish a government with slavery for its chief 
corner-stone. An eminent English statesman has 
asserted, in reference to the war in the United 
States, that " the North is fighting for empire, 
and the South for independence." This is a 
fallacy the great struggle now being waged in 
the United States, is a continuance of the con- 
test between freedom and slavery, that began 
thirty-five years ago in Congress ; and, thank 
God, the indications are, that slavery will go 
down beneath the blows of the freemen of the 

It is unnecessary for me to occupy your 
attention any longer to convince you of the 
barbarity and demoralizing influence of slavery. 
Most of you have doubtless seen the pho- 
tographs of the slave children from New 
Orleans ; the mother of these two inno- 
cent children was a slave, and the children 
of a slave mother follow her condition, and 
these innocent children, as white as any child 
in Montreal, were destined for the slave market. 
This is not by any means an isolated case, 
but of frequent and daily occurrence in the 
Slave States. What do you think of a father 
selling his own child, and that child a pure 

Of an Abolitionist. 205 

innocent girl, as white, if not whiter than 
himself, and for the basest, vilest, and most 
loathsome purpose imaginable ? Thank God 
for the war ; may it continue until we no longer 
hear the sighs and groans of an oppressed 
and cruelly outraged people ! I believe the 
great principle of human freedom involved in 
this contest will ultimately triumph ; it may be 
the purpose of a just God to punish still more 
the people of the North, because of their com- 
plicity with the South in binding the chains of 
slavery upon the coloured people. But out of this 
great contest will arise the august form of Liberty 
demanding that all men black and white shall 
have an equal right to " Life, liberty, and the 
pursuit of happiness." 

It is the custom in this country, and in 
England, to find fault with the President of the 
United States, because he has not done more 
towards liberating the slaves, and especially, 
because he failed to declare every slave in the 
Union free, when he issued the emancipation 
proclamation. I believe Mr. Lincoln has done 
all he could do constitutionally toward emanci- 
pation, and has kept pace with the public opinion 
of the country ; he may appear slow and over- 
cautious at times, but he has done what he has, 
after grave deliberation and much thought and 

206 Recollections and Experiences 

anxiety. In issuing his emancipation proclama- 
tion, he acted in his capacity of Commander-in- 
Chief of the Army of the United States ; he had 
no power to interfere with the local institutions 
of a State like Kentucky, not in actual rebellion. 
I find from public documents that over one 
million of slaves have been liberated, during 
the past two years, and the good work goes 
bravely on. President Lincoln, in my estima- 
tion, merits the approbation and prayers of 
every Christian man, for his efforts to crush 
slavery ; and that God will help him and sustain 
him, should be the earnest prayer of every true 
lover of freedom. 


The question of Reconstruction, which at 
present is deeply agitating the public mind in 
the United States, is one which almost equally 
concerns all mankind as much as the American 
people. That the fruits of the great conquest 
won by the North may not be entirely lost, is a 
wish that is shared alike by the people of every 
enlightened nation. 

Of an Abolitionist. 207 

The policy of Reconstruction, now being pur- 
sued by President Johnson, is fraught with much 
danger to the permanent peace and welfare of 
the United States, and to the progress of Liberal 
principles throughout the world. The President's 
system of appointing, as Provisional Governors 
of the rebel States, men who have just returned 
from the ranks of the rebel army, and the indis- 
criminate pardoning and restoring to political 
rights of men who were prominent in their efforts, 
to destroy the Government the placing into 
political power of men who, by their infamous 
treachery, forfeited everything, even their lives, 
will, it is believed, work great and lasting injury 
to the cause of freedom in the Southern States. 

Mr. Johnson maintains that the rebel acts of 
secession were null and void that the rebel 
States have never been out of the Union that 
the Federal authority was only temporarily 
obstructed by insurrection that all acts done 
and laws enacted by rebel authority were illegal 
assumptions of power, and that all the people of 
the lately rebel States are required to do, to 
enable them to assume the rights and privileges 
they forfeited by their participation in rebellion, 
is to obtain pardon and take the oath of fidelity 
to the Federal Government, which they have, 
for four years been endeavouring to destroy ;. 

208 Recollections and Experiences 

and having conformed to the above require- 
ments, they (the rebels) are to be reinstated to 
all the rights, civil and political, of loyal citizens. 
This is the policy adopted by the President^ 
and which, if persisted in, will deprive the loyal 
people of the Union of the fruits of the great 
victories they have nobly won by the sacrifice of 
so much life and treasure. 

The most recent information from the South 
conveys the surprising intelligence that Presi- 
dent Johnson has authorized the Provisional 
Governors of Mississippi and South Carolina to 
arm and organize a company of militia in each 
county of these States ; and as the whole white 
population of both these States were rebels, 
without exception, the militia, of course, will be 
rebels, and zealous in their efforts to keep the 
nominally free coloured people in abject submis- 
sion to the wishes of their pro-slavery rulers. 
After this concession to unrepentant rebels, it 
would not be at all surprising to hear that the 
National troops were to be removed from those 
States, where their presence is the only security 
the freedmen have from outrage and tyranny. 
The troops once withdrawn from the rebel States, 
a system of persecution and tyranny will be 
organized against the coloured people. Once the 
war power is laid down and State Governments 

Of an Abolitionist. 209 

inaugurated, what is to prevent the Southern 
whites from enacting laws by which the freed- 
men will have as little protection for life, liberty, 
and property as little control of their own ac- 
tions In fact, from making them slaves in all 
but the name ? To bring about this condition it 
will not even be necessary to enact new laws ; 
the brutal slave-codes of the rebel States will 
answer every purpose. Under these codes no 
coloured person's testimony can be taken against 
a white person. PLven were these codes abro- 
gated, nothing more would be needed than the 
prejudice that exists in the courts of justice in 
the South. If the Southern States are allowed 
to reorganize and assume their former position 
in the Union, without granting the negro suf- 
frage and perfect equality before the law, the 
poor black man will be left to the tender mercies 
of the slaveholders, who will take a fiendish 
pleasure in wreaking vengeance upon him for 
his fidelity and loyalty to the Government. 
And to this condition is the policy of Mr. 
Johnson tending. 

The white population of the Slave States have 
been corrupted by vicious institutions, which 
have rendered them totally unfit to participate 
in the reconstruction of the Southern States on 
a basis of freedom and equality ; and if the 

2IO Recollections and Experiences 

power of legislation is given to this class alone, 
the natural consequence will be, that the 
coloured people, who are the only loyal people 
in the South, will be deprived of the little 
freedom which they now enjoy, and remanded 
back into slavery. The votes of the loyal black- 
men are absolutely required to neutralize the 
votes of black-hearted white men. The Govern- 
ment should demand that the intelligent coloured 
man should have an equal voice in the recon- 
struction of the Southern States. Before these 
States should be permitted to have a share in the 
Government, they should be required to give a 
guarantee to freedom, and that guarantee should 
be the immediate levelling of every obstruction 
they have placed in the path of the negro by 
unjust and cruel enactments, and the extension 
of the right of suffrage and complete equality 
before the law. This should be made the un- 
alterable condition upon which alone they can be 
permitted to regain their forfeited position. 
Unless that condition is established and acted 
upon, the Northern people stand a fair chance of 
losing the fruits of their great conquest, and the 
coloured people will be left to the cruel and vin- 
dictive passions of their former masters ; and the 
extent to which their cruelty and cowardly bru- 
tality can extend, may be seen in the records of 
the horrid prison pen at Andersonville, Georgia, 

Of an A bolitionist. 2 1 1 

where 30,000 Union prisoners were systematically 
starved to death. 

How long the patient and docile negro will 
bear the wrongs and injustice heaped upon him, 
we cannot tell ; but there is a limit to human 
patience, and the cruelties practised upon this 
innocent and long-suffering people, may yet 
result in a disastrous war of races. 

October 1st, 1865. 

(JULY 25, 1865.) 

To a nation there can be no greater danger 
than the existence of a flagrant injustice in its 
midst, protected and sanctioned by those in 

When the American people began their na- 
tional career, they made this declaration : " We 
hold these truths to be self-evident that all men 
are created equal ; and that they are endowed 
by their Creator with certain inalienable rights ; 
that among these are life, liberty, and the pur- 

212 Recollections and Experiences 

suit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, 
Governments are instituted among men, deriving 
their just powers from the consent of the govern- 
ed." These great principles were solemnly enun- 
ciated by the founders of the Republic, and they 
appealed to the Supreme Judge of the world for 
the rectitude of their intentions ; and, notwith- 
standing this solemn affirmation, the nation has 
proved recreant to these principles. No wonder 
that Thomas Jefferson declared, in view of the 
national apostacy, "that he trembled for his 
country when he remembered that God was just, 
and that His justice could not sleep forever." 
Without repenting for the long oppression of the 
coloured race, and without evincing the least grati- 
tude toward the negro for his aid and assistance 
in overthrowing the enemies of freedom, they 
basely determine to leave the coloured people in 
the power of their cruel oppressors. Could there 
be greater baseness ? Could there be blacker 
ingratitude ? 

The President of the United States, in his 
proclamation appointing a Provisional Governor 
for Mississippi, announces that none are to be 
allowed to vote for members of the Convention 
(called to restore the State to the Union) but 
those who were qualified as voters in 1861 ; thus 
summarily depriving the loyal blacks of all voice 

Of an A bolitionist. 2 1 3 

in the reconstruction of the South, and placing 
the power directly into the hands of rebels yet 
red with the blood of Union men. 

If the terrible scenes through which the Amer- 
ican nation has passed during the last four years 
has not been sufficient to teach it its solemn duty 
to the oppressed people of the South, it may yet 
have to pass through a more fiery ordeal a war 
of races. Well might Jefferson exclaim, in view 
of such an event, " The Almighty has no attri- 
bute that will not take sides with the oppressed 
against the oppressor." In the midst of their 
rejoicings over the collapse of the rebellion, the 
American people should not forget to deal justly 
with the coloured race. They need not expect the 
favour of Heaven, or a true and permanent peace 
until they level every obstruction, and give the 
freedman the right of suffrage, and place him in 
a position to freely enjoy those inalienable rights 
which the founders of the nation declared to be 
" self-evident truths." The logic of American in- 
stitutions and the principles of the men who 
achieved their independence and framed those 
institutions should impel the American Govern- 
ment to this course, which is demanded alike by 
justice, humanity, and expediency. But if the 
inalienable rights of four millions of men are 
wickedly and unjustly ignored, their appeals for 
justice will not go forth in vain. 

214 Recollections and Experiences 


While on a recent visit to the United States, 
I had many opportunities of conversing with 
intelligent Americans upon the all-absorbing 
question of Reconstruction, now the chief topic 
of conversation in the United States. 

The conflict existing between the President 
and Congress, and the results that may arise 
from a continuance of that conflict, give much 
anxiety to loyal Americans. From the tone of 
the President's remarks and public speeches, 
soon after his accession to the Presidency, the 
loyal and liberty-loving people of the Union 
were led to believe that the President was in 
favour of re-establishing the foundation of the 
country upon the just and enduring basis of 
equal rights to all ; but it soon became apparent 
that the President had a policy which was none 
other than the restoration of Southern rebels to 
all the rights they had forfeited by their wicked 
attempt to destroy the country. 

The object the President has in view is quite 
evident : he desires to be re-elected, and, to 
carry his point, he has resorted to the tricks and 
wiles of a political demagogue. To aid him in 

Of an A bolitionist. 2 1 5 

his efforts, he has formed an aliance with men 
whose hands are red with the blood of the 
murdered Lincoln ; and to propitiate men who, 
for four years, have been engaged in murdering 
and starving Union men, he has hastened to 
pardon and restore to impenitent rebels all the 
rights of citizenship, without asking security for 
the future, or without demanding equal rights 
for loyal men in the South. 

During the last Session of Congress it became 
manifest that the President was determined to 
force his policy upon the country ; but Congress 
took a noble stand in opposition to the recreant 
President, and have maintained their position 

The American people will certainly support 
Congress in opposition to the President and his 
demagogic henchmen Seward and Weed. The 
great majority of intelligent Americans are 
decidedly more radical in their views than Con- 
gress ; consequently there need be no fear or 
anxiety as to the issue of the present conflict 
between the political parties in the United States. 
The great Republican party will be fully sup- 
ported by the people in the elections now being 
held for Congressmen. It is true that some 
weak-kneed Republicans have gone over to the 

216 Recollections and Experiences 

President ; but it is equally true that they are 
men of little influence, and that little they have 
lost by their treason. 

The President has already commenced the 
wholesale removal from office of men appointed 
by Mr. Lincoln, and is filling their places with his 
time-serving friends and favorites of the Copper- 
head species. As Mr. Johnson is a man of 
violent passions, strong will, and very unscrupu- 
lous, the question naturally arises, what will he 
do, in case he is defeated at the present elections ? 
One of his favorites, Montgomery Blair, declares 
the President's determination to be the inaugu- 
ration of another civil war, if the loyal people 
return a Congress opposed to his policy. If that 
is the President's determination, and he attempts 
to carry it out, he will speedily meet the punish- 
ment he merits. 


Letter to "New York Tribune," July 10, 1865. 

There is a resident population of between 
40,000 and 50,000 colored people in Canada, of 
which a large proportion were once held in cruel 

Of an Abolitionist. 217 

vassalage in the Southern States, and, after en- 
during innumerable perils, found a refuge in this 
Province from the wrongs and outrages heaped 
upon them by their wicked task-masters. 


The laws of Canada make no distinction as to 
colour. The negro is placed upon equality with 
the emigrants from other countries, entitled to all 
the privileges, and eligible to office ; and, not- 
withstanding they have had to encounter many 
obstacles in a climate very different from that to 
which they have been accustomed, their pros- 
perity equals that of any other people in our 
midst. They fully appreciate the benefits of 
education ; they are quiet, docile, industrious 
citizens many of them have become wealthy, 
and some have attained to high positions in the 
learned professions. 

There is very much foolish talk in the United 
States about " protecting the negro," and " fitting 
him to enjoy the blessings of liberty." From 
my experience of the colored people of Canada 
(and I have enjoyed unusual advantages that 
have enabled me to become familiar with their 
condition and properties), I believe them quite 
as capable of appreciating their freedom, and 
much more deserving of it, than thousands of 
white voters in the City of New York. The negro 

218 Recollections and Experiences 

needs no protection no preparatory course of 
training. What he does need is to be placed in 
a position to freely enjoy those "inalienable 
rights," which the founders of your institutions 
declared to be " self-evident truths." It is your 
duty to level every obstruction that you have 
placed in their path, in the way of unjust and 
cruel enactments, and, having done that, let them 
alone to manage their own affairs in their own 

The logic of your institutions, and the prin- 
ciples of the great men who framed those insti- 
tutions, should impel you to this course, which is 
demanded alike by justice, humanity, and expe- 
diency. But, if you continue to wickedly ignore 
the rights of the coloured people, you may yet 
have to pass through the fiery ordeal of a war of 

(JULY 5, 1865). 

The basis upon which the seceding States are 
allowed to return to the Union is being very 
warmly discussed in the United States ; and the 
process of reconstruction is watched with the 

Of an Abolitionist. 219 

deepest interest by Christian men throughout 
the world. 

Anti-slavery and radical men demand that 
the freedmen of the South shall have the right 
of suffrage and complete equality before the 
laws, and maintain that the President has the 
constitutional power to guarantee these rights 
to the loyal coloured people of the States lately 
in insurrection. 

On the other hand, there is a large and 
influential party in the Union who maintain 
opposite views, and insist that the question of 
suffrage and equality shall be left to the control 
of the white people of the States interested. 

The Proclamation of Emancipation gave the 
negro parchment liberty, and the Constitu- 
tional amendment only secures that a man shall 
not be bought and sold, and shall have the right 
to walk in peace nothing else. They have no 
other right that a white man is bound to 
respect ; they cannot own land ; they cannot 
testify in a court of justice. If a white man 
enters the house of a coloured man, and out- 
rages his wife or daughter, he cannot go before 
the tribunals and claim justice. They cannot 
vote where the great questions that effect 

22O Recollections and Experiences 

their destiny, their labour and property, are 

And, if the question of suffrage and equality 
*s to be left to the white men of Texas, 
Alabama, and Mississippi, beyond the reach of 
Northern influence, and outside the shelter of 
Northern law, the poor negro will, in all proba- 
bility, remain the tool and victim of their former 
masters for many years. 

I contend that the American people and 
Government are bound, by a solemn obligation 
of honour, to give the freedmen complete 
equality before the law, and the right of 
suffrage. In the hour of their direst necessity 
they called upon the negro for help, and tens of 
thousands of brave coloured men sprang to the 
rescue ; and, by the aid they gave, the North 
succeeded in crushing the Slaveholders' Rebellion. 
Thousands of these negroes have shed their 
blood upon the battle field to maintain the 
integrity of the Union, and now, to remand 
them to the tender mercies of their former cruel 
masters, is worse than injustice it is base 
ingratitude ! 

Of an Abolitionist. 221 

(APRIL 5, 1865.) 

I am frequently asked why I, a Canadian, so 
warmly sympathize with the Northern States in 
their efforts to crush the Slaveholders' Rebellion. 

I reply : I desire the success of the North, 
because the Northern people are struggling to 
maintain the integrity of the Union, and prevent 
the building up of a slave empire on this continent. 

I desire the success of the North, because it 
has espoused the cause of the poor down-trodden 
slaves of the South. 

I desire the success of the North, because I 
believe the preservation of the Union to be es- 
sential to the progress of liberty throughout the 

I desire the success of the North, because the 
ultimate release from bondage of four millions of 
slaves depends upon the overthrow of the Slave- 
holders' Rebellion. 

If any further justification of my career were 
necessary, I might cite the attitude of Liberals 

222 Recollections and Experiences 

all over the world. The Liberals among the 
public men of England, France, Italy, and Ger- 
many are in favor of the North. Cobden, Bright, 
and Mill, in England ; and, in Italy, Mazzini and 
Garibaldi, who will be known throughout all 
coming ages as the liberators of Italy, and the 
champions of universal freedom, are in favor of 
the North. 

Finally, I am persuaded that however much 
my objects and motives may be slandered and 
impugned, that history will vindicate the course 
I have pursued and the position I have main- 
tained since the outbreak of the Slaveholders' 


On the 1 8th of December, 1865, Secretary 
Seward officially announced to the world the glad 
tidings that the Constitutional Amendment abol- 
ishing slavery and involuntary servitude through- 
out the United States, or any place subject to 
their jurisdiction, as follows : 

Of an Abolitionist. 223 

To all to whom these presents may come, Greeiuxj : 

Know ye, That, whereas the Congress of the United States, 
on the 1st of February last, passed a resolution, which is in 
the words following, namely : 

" A resolution submitting to the Legislatures of the several 
States a proposition to amend the Constitution of the United 


" Resolved, By the Senate and House of Representatives of 
the United States of America in Congress assembled, two- 
thirds of both Houses concurring that the following article be 
proposed to the Legislatures of the several States as an 
Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which, 
when ratified by three-fourths of said Legislatures, shall be 
valid to all intents and purposes as a part of said Constitution, 
namely : 

" 'Article XIII. 

" 'SECTION 1. Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude, 
except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall 
have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, 
or any place subject to their jurisdiction. 

" 'SECTION 2. Congress shal-1 have power to enforce this 
article by appropriate legislation.' " 

And whereas, It appears from official documents on file in 
this Department, that the Amendment to the Constitution of 
the United States proposed as aforesaid, has been ratified by 
the Legislatures of the States of Illinois, Rhode Island, 
Michigan, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, Maine, Kan- 
sas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, 
Nevada, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont, 
Tennessee, Arkansas, Connecticut, New Hampshire, South 
Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia, in all 27 

And whereas, The whole number of States in the United 
States is 36. 

And whereas, The before specially named States, whose 
Legislatures have ratified the said proposed Amendment, 
constitute three-fourths of the whole number of States in the 
United States; 

224 Recollections and Experiences. 

Now, therefore, be it known that I, William H. Seward, 
Secretary of State of the United States, by virtue and in 
pursuance of the second section of the act of Congress, 
approved the 20th of April, 1818, entitled "An Act to pro- 
vide for the publication of the laws of the United States, and 
for other purposes," do hereby certify that the Amendment 
aforesaid has become valid to all intents and purposes as a 
part of the Constitution of the United States. 

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and 
caused the seal of the Department of State to be affixed. 

Done at the City of Washington, this 18th day of December, 
in the year of our Lord 1865, and of the Independence of the 
United States of America the 90th. 

WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State. 

Thus terminated the great struggle between 
Freedom and Slavery in the United States.